The Singular Affair of the Second Moriarty

Chapter Five

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)
The droid clanked down the concrete corridor carrying a covered tray. It was 9.00am according to its internal clock, time to feed the human again.
Beth sat up as the droid came in. She had been given some clean clothes to wear; they lay as yet untouched on a wooden chair in the corner. She had also been fed and treated for her wounds by the droid several times, but as yet the man who called himself the Shadow had not reappeared, for which she was more than a little grateful. Even thinking about him made her shudder, as she remembered the black eyes staring down.
"Bacon and eggs," stated the droid, setting down the tray, "I will now treat your wounds." It bent down and rolled up a trouser leg to get to a large dark bruise.
Immediately Beth scythed it in the neck with the other leg, slamming its head hard against the wall. She winced as it took her foot into the wall with it, but was rewarded for her effort as sparks leapt from the dented metal and the robot sunk to the floor. But Beth was already pulling at its arm before it hit the ground. It took her all of a minute to remove the electronic card to the door from its inner palm with her belt buckle and another second or so to reach the cell door. The key card whirred for a second or two in the lock before the door slid open, Beth glanced behind at the robot and stepped forward.
A gloved hand caught her firmly round the neck. For a moment she couldnít breathe; the hand readjusted its grip. The black eyes and pinched face came into view as the Shadow emerged into the room. His eyes darted behind her for a moment, before once more resting on her face.
"My, my, Miss Lestrade, havenít we been busy." He dragged her back into the room, ripping the card out of her hand and crushing it. He was holding her too tight for her to speak, and both her hands were wrapped around his wrist to stop her neck breaking as he pulled her along. Maybe her only chance of escape was gone. He kicked the droid out of the way and threw her down on the bed.
"The droid was cheap, easily replaced. You unfortunately are at the moment irreplaceable, but that will not be so for much longer. Why, Miss Lestrade." He spotted the full food tray on the table. "Not hungry?"
She ducked as he kicked the tray towards her, narrowly missing her head.
"Mr Holmes is being most uncooperative. He is not at home, at the police station, at your flat; in fact he canít be found anywhere. But I am clever, yes; I have found a way to catch the fox." He smiled the horrible toothy smile again.
"He must have his computer with him, yes, he must have. And by now he must be extremely worried what I am doing to his fair Ďfriendí Miss Lestrade. So I have devised a trap, not very complicated but effective nonetheless." He grabbed her hair and yanked her head backwards so that she was staring right up at him.
"I tell him that I wish to meet him, to discuss terms of your release. When he arrives I grab him and bring him here. Good, yes, but the best part is to come.
"He then helps me trap Moriarty, and why will he do such a thing, you ask?" He learned so close that his nose was almost touching hers. "Because if he refuses I will kill you ever so slowly in front of his miserable eyes."
Beth blinked back the tears of pain that were forming in her eye. "But if he agrees...youíll kill us both anyway."
His grin became even wider."Ah, yes, my dear Lestrade. But it's how I kill you that makes all the difference." He released her head laughing, picked up the broken droid under one arm and disappeared out of the room, leaving Beth alone in the cell once again.
Tessa was shaking; every bone in her body felt like it was going to snap under the nervous tension in her body. Another person walked straight by her, ignoring her. She had her now-red hair tied back behind her head, her face in full view. If the makeup slips, she kept thinking, if it washes off or melts or rubs away, theyíre going to see my face, my real face, not this liquid plastic thing that Holmes has made me, and theyíre going to scream. It had been about half an hour since she left the hotel; sheíd had to walk, her board packed and folded into a suitcase by her side in case of an emergency. In that time she had taken a hoverbus, a taxi and walked numerous streets, without a single person staring at her. She tried to cheer herself up; at least she wasnít far from the address she had been given and with all the buses and the taxis she was sure that creature hadnít been following her. The streets she had been walking down had gradually been getting more dilapidated, but not in the way that her neighbourhood on the other side of town was. These buildings were not towering blocks of flats or greasy cafes; they were dilapidated, yes, but many of them looked like someone had taken the bother to patch them up a bit. In short, these looked like somebodyís home.
She dug the paper from her pocket and checked the house number. "C.Fayre. Now where could that be!" She found the house a short way down the road; somebody had been decorating recently or at least added another coat of paint in an attempt to hold the walls up. She walked up the path carefully to avoid dislodging loose paving stones and knocked lightly on the door.
A woman opened it; she was about middle-aged but with a sparkle in her eyes that marked her as the eternally young at heart and a smile to match. She was just in the process of untying an apron; biscuit smells wafted out of the house. "Can I help you?"
Tessa tried not to think of the fact that the woman was looking right at her face. "Yes. I would like to speak to your nephew Tennyson Fayre, please."
"Whatís your name?" Tessa knew she was going to sneeze; she could feel the tickle start in her nose. She looked to the side of the door. Daffodils -- they just had to have daffodils, didnít they. She snuffled and blinked to get rid of the feeling.
"Tessa, my name is Tessa." Miss Fayre disappeared inside the doorway. The inside of the house was sparkling clean but well-worn; many of the bits and pieces had been recently repaired. Wow, thought Tessa, they must have had a small army in here recently. After a while Miss Fayre appeared in the door; following her was a teenager in a hoverchair. The only parts of him Tessa could see were his eyes; everything else was wrapped in a turbo flight jumpsuit and a red bandanna.
Tessa looked at Miss Fayre; the smile had dipped. "My nephew has no idea who you are."
Tessa resisted the urge to shrug. "There is no reason he should. We have never met before." Miss Fayre looked puzzled.
Tessa looked down at the blue-eyed teenager. His eyes were curious but not frightened as Tessa would have thought; but then again, she remembered, heís a friend of Holmes. Strangers turning up must be an everyday occurrence.
Tessa lowered her voice and moved slightly closer, Miss Fayre looked ready to close the door. "Sherlock Holmes sent me. Could we please talk inside? Itís vital that Iím not seen here."
There was instant recognition in Tennysonís eyes. Miss Fayre's smile reappeared full beam.
Sounds erupted from the wheelchair. "Whurrr."
Miss Fayre looked down at her nephew. "He says Mr Holmes would have told you something to tell him when you got here."
Tessa remembered the second scrap of paper she had been handed before she left; digging it out she read it out loud. "Tennyson likes honey in his tea."
The door was opened fully and she was welcomed into the house.
Once she had been settled into the front room Miss Fayre disappeared to make tea and finish her cooking. She sat on a low stool so that she could talk to Tennyson face to face.
"Mr Holmes needs you to add a timing programme into this projector." She gave him a small metal disc "Once activated it needs to run for ten minutes before fading; itís vital that it doesnít fail. He gave me some more detailed instructions for you to download." She handed him the small envelope with the laser disc in; he slotted the disc into a computer on his chair.
"Whurrrr...urrrrr" She wasnít quite used to his language but she got the message from his eyes.
"You want to know what Mr Holmes is working on?"
The head nodded.
She launched into an explanation which only skimmed the surface, leaving out most of her own story but giving him a nearly full account of the attack at 221b Baker Street. There was no need for him to know it all, she reasoned with herself; no need to make him a target.
Tennyson got on with the projector, and half an hour passed. Mrs Fayre came in once or twice to straighten the room or check on Tennyson or to bring cups of tea for them.
After a while her nose began to tickle again. She looked up; on the table was a big bunch of fresh daffodils. Before she could stop herself she sneezed, and watched in horror as a large part of the plastic disguise came off her cheek and dropped to the floor.
"Whuurrr?" She watched in grim fascination as a hand reached down and picked up the flesh-coloured piece from the ground. She couldnít move; her face had ended up facing down after the sneeze but her hair was back, well away from her face. She felt a finger against her chin. The boy was not that strong, but numb with terror, she couldnít stop him from tilting her face towards the light.
"Whuurrr...beep!" She saw the blue eyes again; it was the only thing she could focus on. She felt the plastic being pressed against her face, but the glue had worn off and it wouldnít stick. She felt her hair being gently untied; red moved in front of her bad eye as it was pulled front of her face.
She managed to shake off her terror-filled paralysis and automatically her hand strayed to touch the hair. "You didnít scream!"
Tennyson honked a horn on the side of his chair. Tessa jumped at the noise.
He reached up to his own face and tugged aside the bandanna for a second. His mouth was distorted and his nose turned up. Giving her a weird grin, he replaced the bandanna. She looked at his sparkling blue eyes and could read the message quite clearly without the help of his computer. They said in defiance to the world, 'So what!'

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