Bedbugs and Broomsticks
Part Oneby Jaka Ray
Sherlock Holmes and Beth Lestrade rushed from his Baker
Street flat as others in the neighborhood were leaving their houses
in a panic, clutching their most precious belongings, snatched up in a
desperate haste. There were shouts of surprise and cries for help all
through the air. Lestrade clutched her ears in a vain attempt to block
out the overwhelming grief of all that was around her. But she
gathered all the courage she had, and walked on before Holmes could
offer his support.
"We have to get to the source of the bombings. We have got to help!"
She stepped forward resolutely and ignored the Great Detective's
protests on the contrary. It was useless to argue with her when her
mind was set something. Just like the Lestrade I knew, Holmes thought
to himself. A true Scotland Yard Inspector.
As they quickly strode down the street with the most distress, Holmes
slipped on something and went down on one knee. When Holmes stopped so
did the rustle of his clothes, and Lestrade turned to see what the
matter was. To stop himself from falling, Holmes instinctively grabbed
Lestrade's hand. But he didn't stand just yet, and their eyes met,
even as their hands stayed together. Any passerby would assume that
they were about to be wed, and the man kneeling down - Holmes - had
just proposed. Lestrade's face was certainly that of shock, seeing
Holmes in a position that would otherwise be a comical one. But not
now... Not at this time. Not when all of New London was in danger. She
didn't know he had fallen: she thought just the same as any person
whose eye fell upon the two of them. Had he really heard her
confession of love? It was nice that he felt the same way, maybe even
wonderful. But it was such a bad time to tell her, and to dump it on
her in this way. She didn't know what to do, and so she slowly
withdrew her hand from his. "I'm sorry, I'm not ready yet," she
murmured, and continued on.
Sherlock Holmes was speechless. How could he explain he had only
slipped without embarrassing her? What had she thought he was doing?
She didn't really think...that he was proposing? It was a chilling
idea. His Victorian ideals and natural distrust of women forbade the
idea of marriage. But then, obviously no Victorian of Holmes' time had
met Beth Lestrade. Holmes bit his lip hard and walked on, afraid to
speak because of what he knew Lestrade must have been thinking of him
at the moment. He imagined it would be something along the lines of
how strange he was to propose when they were needed the most by New
London. How selfish he was to do something that would make the two of
them feel like they were the only two in the entire world when they
were needed most by the entire world. It made him wince that such a
thought should cross her mind. And what did she mean by 'yet'?! Did she
expect that he would propose again? It was all too confusing. And so
Holmes drove the incident from his mind, said nothing, and followed
The two soon came to what was the disastrous origin of one of the
bombs -- it was completely barren. How shocking it was to be in the
bustling, although panicked, city of New London one moment, and then
to be confronted by an area of nothingness the next second. The blast
radius of the bomb could be approximated to five blocks in all
directions. Already, people were gathered around the edges of the
bleak circle, while braver ones ventured into the wreckage to search
without hope for whatever could be left after such an appalling
Even Holmes felt a devastating sadness in the air, but Lestrade, who
was followed by others who grew braver at the sight of her assured
presence, joined the searchers. But the place was a complete clearing,
without even a bit of trash or a weed. There was nothing left. Soon,
even Lestrade had to give up. She walked back to where Holmes was
looking around with her head bent and arms limp at her sides. "It's
hopeless," she groaned.
"We should go to Scotland Yard," Holmes recommended
quietly. He led the way, knowing Lestrade would follow. Onlookers were
beginning to go back to their homes, knowing there was nothing they
could do. Those who had known the people who were now gone forever as
a result of the explosion gathered around the place and wept silently.
When they met with Chief Inspector Greyson at their destination, he
was looking deeply troubled. "We know about the explosions. We've just
been there," Holmes prompted. Greyson nodded. He brought up a map of
New London, with dark bold spots where the bombs had blown. He named
them all as police stations. Everyone shuddered. Whoever had
done this, and it was obviously Moriarty or one of his henchmen, did
not want the interference of the police.
"So New London is without law?" Lestrade whispered in horror. She
gasped as Greyson nodded gravely.
"Strange, is it not," Holmes began, plunging the rest into the matter
without hesitation or useless bemoaning, "that these bombs were
located in the smaller branches, and not the headquarters of the whole
Met? Wouldn't it be that if someone didn't want the Yard in the
business, they would take out the Yard, where all the information
is stored, where things of the greatest importance take place?" It was
agreed that Holmes had brought up a good point, and that it was a
scary thought: if Moriarty blew up the smaller branches, leaving
absolutely nothing behind, what would he do to the highest branch of
the Scotland Yard offices?
"Another question is how the bombs got there." Greyson added. But he
added that it would be hard to investigate that matter, because the
only ones who could tell him of any strange incidents in the smaller
offices were no longer with them. The only person who knew the answer
to Greyson's question would be the antagonist himself. And they were
an unreliable source anyway.
"So it was back to last names again?" she thought to herself sadly.
They stood at the same time, and he said
he would go to work on picking up clues. He even remarked that he had
a few leads. Lestrade sighed. On a case, Holmes was always ahead of
everybody else. Even in the 22nd century, when the technology greatly
overshadowed that of his own time, he seemed sharper and still
repeatedly made the Yard Inspectors look like fools.
She smiled at him thankfully, grasping his arm for a moment. The wiry
arm underneath flinched, but he didn't pull away. He nodded at her,
and then headed off, leaving Lestrade to think. She was growing more
and more fond of Holmes, and because of that she had taken the
precaution of implanting a tracker on his coat when she gripped him.
Her acknowledgement of his sharpness was correct, and Holmes was well
aware of the bug on his clothing. But he didn't bother removing it.
She had done it in concern for him, not with thoughts of ill will.
Besides, it might come in handy.
"Do you even want to know why I'm here?" Sherlock
Holmes was not the most patient of men. I have a feeling you're going
to tell me! Lestrade growled to herself. He pulled a packet out of his
Victorian style coat. "We've gotten a tipoff that Moriarty is hiding
in this place in New London. It's a note, scrawled on the back of a
traffic ticket for speeding just this last Monday, issued to someone
by Officer Bradstreet. It would be easy to trace who the recipient
was. Another lead Grayson wanted us-"
Us? Lestrade pondered. Does that
mean we're officially partnered? The idea made her feel queasy.
"-to follow was the writing itself on this ticket. It was written with an
eyeliner pen, distinguished by the soft tip and how the pencil leaves
behind small pieces of eyeliner. This means the writer is female, and
underestimates the talents of Scotland Yard." He chuckled to himself,
handing her the ticket.
Lestrade took the note and studied it. She analyzed the eyeliner
chips, and narrowed down the places it was sold in. There were only
two: a small store off Main Street, and a pharmacy on the other side
of New London.
"Then we'd better get to work." Holmes swept up his hat and held the
door open. Lestrade sighed. She'd never be able to finish her springcleaning
now. And it was all she could do to keep from telling Holmes
how she felt about being his partner, and to his referring to the two
of them as a team. Groaning inwardly, she walked out to her hovercar.
This is irrelevant to the story; I was just listening to this song and
felt like writing a SONGFIC. Touching, isn't it? Kidding. Listen to
Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" - the song in this SONGFIC. (The lyrics in this
SONGFIC might be out of order.)
Holmes was a wonderful player of the violin. But they were hard to
find in the 22nd century. So he made do with a strange instrument held
like the Stradivarius, though instead of strings it had the keys of a
keyboard. He had grown accustomed to its strange sounds, and had begun
making improvised music on it. But as they drove along the country
roads, with hardly any other car in sight down both sides of the road,
Holmes was steering and the radios annoyed him. All the newfangled
music was nothing but screeching noise to his finely attuned ears. But
Beth Lestrade had leaned back her seat and was almost lying flat on
her back. She brought along her futuristic guitar, which was lighter
and folded conveniently, but still gave out the pleasant sounds of the
old acoustic guitars. Holmes had never heard her play; had never ever
seen or heard her have anything to do with art or music. But when she
did strike the strings rhythmically, with an old song on her lips, her
melodic voice melted the words away smoothly, and even Sherlock Holmes
could feel the emotions behind the simple yet touching tune.
John H. Watson's writings described Holmes' skills
on the fiddle as "remarkable, but as eccentric as all his other
accomplishments". He could play the most difficult and challenging
pieces at Watson's requests, but in private he usually sat with closed
eyes and "scraped" at the violin on his knee, which reflected the
feelings of his mind. Holmes had read the account with raised
eyebrows, refusing to believe his friend's view. But now that Holmes
could watch Beth Lestrade do the same-although with a bit more rhythm
and melody, it was eerie. The closed eyes, the absentminded
strumming, and the expression of inner feelings were all exactly
You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
But me myself, I got nothing to prove.
Her voice is beautiful. Just like she is. Plain on the outside yet
undeniable in its meaning. Holmes was deeply moved, and found
it hard to keep his eyes away from her face and on the road.
His cohort was wearing common, comfortable-looking clothes:
sweatshirt, sweatpants. Lestrade had her eyes closed softly
and strummed the chords by heart. She tilted her head gently
every now and then to the tune. Her lightly colored lips
shaped the words delicately and barely moved and Holmes' sharp
eyes caught the movement of her vocal chords in her throat.
Occasionally she gazed dreamily out the window at the passing
fields, still playing. She never looked at him. I suppose
she's too intent on the personal meaning of the song. Whatever
that may be.
You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won't have to drive too far
Just 'cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living
Lestrade had never before referred to her family or early life. Another likeness to
himself, Holmes thought. It was only until years into their
relationship that he trusted Watson enough to let him in on his
brother and then much later until he gave him Mycroft's real
occupation. Beth had dropped a few careless hints as to her childhood.
Holmes knew she had an older brother, and that she had had a rough
start, without her parents. She had lived in Texas until moving to New
London with her brother, who became her legal guardian after her
father. And Sherlock didn't even know why her brother took her
You see, my old man's got a problem
He live with the bottle that's the way it is
He says his body's too old for working
I say his body's too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody's got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did
Holmes bit his lip and resisted the temptation to try
and hum along or interrupt with a question. It would disturb Beth's
gush of feeling, and he was dying to hear the rest of the song. They
were nearing their destination, but he drove slower to allow Lestrade
time to finish. He made a mental note to have a talk with her about
the song and its meaning. It was about time he learned the truth about
Beth's whole life, as long as it didn't hurt her to tell it. They were
getting closer than just being friends, and he was sure Lestrade's
sharp senses had picked it up when he had. There was no way to explain
how it had happened: it just had. Slowly and subtly it had sprung on
the two of them and taken both by surprise. The feeling was nestled
deep inside each heart, and it just needed a little push.
I remember we were driving, driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone
You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way
You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs
Surely she can't be referring to me? Holmes thought. His
chest twanged guiltily at the thought of downing beer and liquor with
'friends' and leaving Beth Lestrade alone at home. His curiosity was
aroused when he wondered what she was thinking as she sang. One could
suppose she was thinking of nothing, and that her mind drifted away as
the words left her mouth. But any mind reader would be able to tell
that indeed her thoughts were centered on her companion. As his
thoughts were centered on her. But neither spoke a word, except
Lestrade, who was singing. How strange it was that the whole song
seemed to revolve around the car, when the minds of the singer and the
listener were revolving around each other.
You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans
I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving
Just when Beth Lestrade plucked the last chord, Sherlock Holmes announced they were
nearing their destination. She gazed outside the window again, and
then quickly packed up her guitar, wondering if her song had any
effect on Holmes as they had driven. Maybe he hadn't even heard it. An
uncomfortable silence hung in the air while the two of them unloaded
the car. They never did mention the song again, although in the near
future one could find one of them mentally humming the tune.
I remember we were driving, driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.
PART ONE: Bedbugs and Broomsticks
CHAPTER ONE: Paris Law Enforcements
I'm so puny. slap self
They settled into their hotel and continued out
into the sweet air of Paris. Lestrade took a deep breath of the
perfumed air. "Ah, Paris, the city of love." She didn't mean to drop
obvious hints, but the phrase just slipped out.
"Actually, Lestrade, the 'city of love' is technically Venice."
"Oh." Well, maybe we should go there next. Out loud she pressed, "Any
Holmes shook his head with a melancholy sigh. "I suppose we shall have
to pretend to be tourists, after all." He groaned.
Lestrade smiled. "Well, then, let's get a move on!" And she tugged forcefully at his
sleeve in the direction of Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.
Lestrade had never been so happy in all her life. All around her were
people holding hands and smiling. Holmes was evidently wrong about the
French being snobs. The weather was colder in France, and there were
patches of snow already beginning to form on the sidewalks. Lestrade
was wearing a cloak, but she still had to shiver when she stepped in
snow. Holmes cocked an eyebrow, gave an exasperated sigh and put his
arm around her shoulder to keep her warm. Beth fidgeted, but didn't
move; it was warmer, anyway. They walked the rest of the way to the
famous café on Champs Elysees in silence.
The coffee warmed both up considerably, and after leaving a few extra
credits they continued on their way, in the same fashion as before.
The Arc was magnificent, and amazing that it had survived all the
centuries since Napoleon Bonaparte had it commissioned. Lestrade could
see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Across the Seine River was the
Notre Dame, and there was the Louvre Museum and Versailles about an
When they visited the Eiffel Tower, Lestrade gave a laugh, wriggled
out from under Holmes' arm, and raced up the stairs. Holmes was
shocked, but then chuckled as well and climbed up after her. The two
athletes were winded when they got to the top, but the view was so
magnificent that all thoughts of exhaustion were forgotten. Lestrade
couldn't bring herself to step back from the railing, because,
although she was afraid of heights at times, the sheer brilliance of
seeing the entire city was worth it. She poked a little fun at Holmes
when she saw him looking around at the complete panoramic view of
Paris and told him he couldn't possibly be able to see Moriarty, even
from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
But she froze when Holmes suggested they take the elevators down this
time. Lestrade could take stairs anytime; you could stop whenever you
wanted, but with elevators your life relied entirely on the cord
holding you and tons of other people. She shivered with fright. When
she didn't budge Holmes asked her what the matter was.
"I just need...a little time, that's all." She pleaded to him. But "a
little time" became five, ten, fifteen minutes and Sherlock was getting
apprehensive. He was enough of a detective to know she was afraid of
heights -- elevators, at least -- and enough of a gentleman to decide to
just take the stairs. He playfully challenged her to a race down the
stairs, but Lestrade still didn't budge. When she began thinking of
elevators the vertigo completely overtook her and her thoughts moved
on to the day of the explosions. Holmes' impatience was beginning to
kick in, but Beth didn't notice. She was still standing by the rail,
and when he couldn't take it anymore he scooped her up like a child
and headed quickly for the stairs. She gave a shriek and clutched
tightly to his coat, burying her face in his shoulder. When Holmes got
to the steps, ignoring the stares of people around him, he hopped down
the stairs three at a time as if he weren't carrying Lestrade at all.
Holmes was afraid he would land wrong and turn his ankle, but his main
concern was keeping Lestrade from being frightened. He ostentatiously
sang songs he knew from his many trips incognito to various shipping
docks, where he learned hearty tunes, which the sailors often sang.
His voice didn't change from the jumping down steps, and when he
reached the bottom he set Lestrade down gently. Beth Lestrade took a
few deep breaths and stood wobbly but eventually looked at him. Holmes
smiled at her - he understood. She looked back down again but they
walked on, Holmes' arm always around her shoulder to keep her warm.
The two of them had visited each of the famous tourist spots in turn,
and Holmes had finally gotten Lestrade a warm overcoat. She
appreciated his kindness, but secretly wished he hadn't. Beth found
herself preferring his arm around her shoulder. Soon the only sights
left to see was the countryside, which was a ways off from Paris
itself. They retrieved their car and drove along, following the signs.
Being from the Victorian era, where the transportation was trains,
cabs, and other public carriages, Holmes had to adjust to driving his
own car. He was a skilled horseman, but driving was another thing
altogether. Lestrade had given him some manuals to study so he
wouldn't get into to much trouble trying to learn on his own, but she
was worried that he might not have looked at them at all. So she made
sure to buckle her seat belt - tight. She didn't know how the French
system of driving worked, but hoped it was rational. The first signs
of impoliteness in the French people became apparent when Holmes
almost collided with a cruiser. He protested in frustration as he
avoided a collision, but Lestrade was quick to notice the driver's
hunched back and orange hair.
"It's Fenwick!" she cried in surprise. Holmes wrenched his head at her
in surprise and almost became roadkill when they ran a red light.
"Quick! Switch on the tracker!" And when he did Fenwick's ion trail
was easily followed, but the villain was far ahead of them after the
traffic parted. Sherlock grimaced and increased the speed of their
vehicle. Whenever a craft got in their way, he easily maneuvered their
own under, over, or around it with a series of flips, swerves, and
rolls. Lestrade could barely tell which way was up.
"Glad to see you did read those manuals," she said weakly. She had
never been carsick in her life, but felt that if Sherlock Holmes
didn't stop his certainly illegal roller coaster ride, she would have
to ruin her new coat. Her fears were soon put to rest, but not in the
way she had expected. Their hovercraft suddenly stopped going, and
Holmes made a surprised sound that sounded like a squeak. He had
spotted the police car approaching them. And Lestrade noticed the
large metallic robot approaching Holmes' side.
"Good morning to you, sir." The robot began pleasantly, "Are you
having some emergency? Is you wife having a child?" It stared over
toward Lestrade's direction. Holmes grunted, and replied wryly that
the robot's assumption was far from true. He said nothing else, and
the robot continued on, "Well, then, could you please inform me why
you're driving very much over the speed limit!" Although it was a
robot with artificial intelligence, it was clearly uneducated in the
sense of manners. Then again, few police robots are.
"So just give us a ticket already!" Lestrade growled. The robot smiled
wickedly. Robots aren't exactly polite, but they sure as zed aren't
evil. Lestrade knitted her eyebrows in thought.
She was sure the same consideration crossed Holmes' mind, but he
remained courteous. "Yes," he encouraged the robot, "we are in a bit of a
hurry." Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Fenwick's ion trail fading slowly.
If robots could smile the one in their presence was doing so. "Oh, no."
It purred. Their Irregular friend, Tennyson, whirred and beeped in the
same fashion, but his noises had a kindness behind them that the
policeman's lacked. "The government of France wouldn't want you to
stay on the road after this. I'm afraid I shall have to put you under
And the robot was as good as its word. Its police car was different
from the ones in New London: there were two different compartments
separated by a wall. The policeman sat in the front, and the prisoners
sat in the back on the floor. There was a camera in one corner, which
connected with a screen set in the steering wheel of the front seat. A
screen on the wall separating the two compartments was used for the
policeman to communicate with the prisoner if they needed to. The
windows in the back were tinted so as to give the prisoner isolation
and privacy. The only way to get to the back seat was by lowering the
separation wall, which was done by a button on the driver's side. All
this Holmes observed as he and Lestrade were shoved into the backseat.
Lestrade protested loudly until the robot threatened to press charges.
After that she seethed darkly and muttered under her breath. Holmes,
however, was analyzing the situation and calculating their next move.
Lestrade's complaints weren't doing any good: nothing she said, none
of her actions, nothing at all seemed to reach the robot's ears. It
was immune to them. The robot was behaving rashly and not at all like
the usual ones in the police force. Even if they were in a different
country he doubted the French government was much different from that
of New London. He deduced someone or something had messed with the
wiring. And why had their enemy singled out him and Lestrade? And if
it were true that their enemy was after them, how would he or she be
sure the two of them would fall into the clutches of the robot?
Then the answer came to him: Fenwick. Moriarty himself had probably ordered
the easily noticeable Frenchman to follow Holmes and Lestrade and to
get himself noticed and followed a fast speed past the reprogrammed
robot. The robot would then do his job and give out a harsher
punishment than usual, landing Holmes and Lestrade in jail until
things were sorted out. And Moriarty and Fenwick would've escaped for
good by the time the two were out and about. They had to do something
- something showy that would get the robot's attention fast. Holmes'
mind quickly devised a plan.
CHAPTER TWO: Holmes' Daring Plan
Sherlock Holmes seized Lestrade's arm and pulled her toward him. "Kiss
me," he ordered quietly.
Lestrade was appalled. Was it that obvious that she was thinking
of him? Had Holmes recently acquired mind reading abilities? She could've
slapped him across the face for his impudence, but then she saw in his eyes a
seriousness that was only associated with one of his plans. She hesitated,
then leaned closer and gave him a smooch. Immediately he let out a series of
loud moans and groans and threw his arms around her. It was a comical sight to
anyone who knew his thoughts towards women, but Lestrade caught on and did the same.
The robot swerved the car as it beeped out, "Hey! Hey, back there!
Stop that now! This is a police car, not the Moulin Rouge! Stop that!"
But its orders only made Holmes and Lestrade perform louder and more
drastically. Lestrade even ran her fingers through Holmes' sandy-colored
hair after he began to roll about. She wouldn't be outdone.
She accidentally laughed out loud at the situation, but Holmes covered
it over with a giggle of his own. His giggle was lower, of course, but
a giggle nonetheless. It made Lestrade want to laugh more, but she
forced herself to focus. With her lips still locked in his, she
situated herself in a position which would take the droid by surprise
when it rolled down the separation wall.
The robot had been reprogrammed, but it still had a policeman's mind
in it. It was furious that the orders it had given were ignored. It
would be the laugh of the whole agency if word got out that two
prisoners 'had a shag' in the backseat of the robot's car and wouldn't
listen to its orders. It finally pulled the car over and lowered the
No sooner had he done so, Lestrade had tackled the robot and yanked
out its wiring. It didn't even know what hit it. Holmes calmly moved
the machine to the passenger's seat, fiddled with its simple
programming, and figured out the problem. There was a bug on one of
the robot's microchips, a bug that was straightforward but effective.
He pocketed it and turned to Lestrade.
"Well, Inspector," he shrugged in his usual manner as if nothing had
happened at all and smoothed out his ruffled attire. "I'm afraid we've
lost Fenwick and Moriarty for the time being, and our hovercraft must
be a long ways off. I suppose we could borrow this one and reprogram
the robot again. No need for it to remember any of this. No reason why
any of this should reach Deidre's ears, either." He grinned and
Lestrade smiled back weakly. Deidre, another Irregular, was fixated on
the fact that the two of them should get together. She was convinced
the two felt something for one another, despite the fact that all they
did was argue. Maybe she's right after all, Lestrade thought as she
straightened out her own cloak and set to work on reprogramming the
robot. The two of them returned to their hotel tired but satisfied
with the day's 'work'.
In the hotel room, Lestrade and Holmes discussed the investigations
that needed to be done the next day. Holmes insisted they find more
leads before pursuing the only one they had at the moment, which was
the bug found on the robot. Lestrade argued back that Moriarty's trail
had grown cold and if they wanted to find more leads they had to
follow the one they had. The two had different ways of working, but
for once Sherlock submitted to Lestrade's way. He was too tired to
argue with Lestrade, who could keep at an argument for days if she had
to. But he'd never admit to his weariness and so he remarked casually
to Lestrade, "Well, I'm sure you're tired, so I'll let you sleep." And
he shot out an arm for the light switch.
Beth grinned evilly from underneath her blankets; she knew exactly
what he was doing. "Oh, but Sherlock, I wasn't the one who climbed the
Eiffel Tower two times today. And I wasn't the one who thought up a
daring and efficient escape plan when a haywire robot wrongly arrested
me." She blinked innocently at him. Holmes groaned and turned off the
light, turning away from Beth Lestrade. The small hotel room was so
cramped that the beds were less than an arm's length apart from each
other, and Sherlock Holmes was sure that if he turned in her
direction, he would be able to see her Cheshire cat grin -- even in the
Beth Lestrade woke up in the morning exhausted after a night of
unrest. Not only were the hotel rooms confined and small, but also the
walls weren't so thick either. She had heard the neighboring tenant
snoring nonstop all night long. It certainly wasn't Holmes; she had
rolled him over to check on his breathing. But he was sleeping
peacefully and inhaling with clear, deep breaths. Lestrade had half a
mind to phone the manager of the hotel to complain of the lack of
soundproof walls before she realized the room didn't even have phones.
The manager had evidently foreseen the possibility of too many
complaints. You would think the Great Detective could afford the
best, she thought bitterly as she tossed and turned. When she
finally fell asleep it was four in the morning and Sherlock got up an
Lestrade refused to wake up -- she was still half asleep
when he tried to make her rise -- and her fatigue told Holmes that she
had heard the snores as well. Holmes could fall asleep at will,
another one of his eccentric abilities, but Lestrade obviously
couldn't do so. So he let her sleep and headed out to a light
breakfast and to follow the only lead they had. He took care to send
some brunch up to Lestrade in a thermo for when she stirred.
And when she did stir, she was alarmed to find Holmes' bed slept in
but empty. But her fears melted when she found the thermos and a note
in his firm but rushed handwriting.
Am following lead. Keep resting. You will need it.
Be back soon. Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite.
Beth had to smile. She put the note in her pocket
and ate her meal meditatively. She decided to follow Holmes' advice
and went back to sleep, which was how he found her when he got back.
Holmes cocked his head to one side, unsure of how to wake her up. He
picked up the thermos and its tray, lifted it high above his head and
dropped it onto the floor. Sure enough, the clamor roused Lestrade.
"Sorry, didn't mean to drop that," he lied, and began picking up the
tray. She nodded drowsily, blinked, and got up with a yawn.
"What'd you get?" she prompted. Lestrade looked around, and,
remembering the note, pulled it out again and restudied it.
"I can tell you wrote this in a hurry, and so that means you had a
very important lead that you couldn't wait to investigate. And from
that cocky smile on your face I can tell you succeeded." Beth looked
at him, waiting, and then continued without looking away, "You know, I
hate bedbugs. I hate any kind of bug, actually."
Holmes' smile broadened. She was right about the note, but not right
about why he was smiling. Sherlock was about to give one of his
dramatic pauses, but remembered the bruise on the back of his noggin
and decided just to tell her. But his sense of mischief got the better
of him. He pulled out a crumpled brown bag. "My dear Lestrade, your
deductive powers seem to be growing stronger even as we speak. And as
to your prodding, I'm sure you shall find this bag immensely
interesting." Holmes tossed it to her, and focused his eyes on her
with a look of amusement. Beth Lestrade tore the bag open with ferocious
curiosity, took one look into it, and gave a loud scream.
CHAPTER THREE: The Horrible Bag
"Holmes!" She flung the bag away from her and screeched out, "I'll
kill you!" She sprang from the bed and took a punch at him as he
ducked and clutched at his sides, doubling over. He was laughing so
hard tears came out of his eyes. Lestrade pounded at him mercilessly,
but he landed on his back and lay limp, still laughing. Beth straddled
him and held the bag inches from his face. "Apologize NOW or I'll dump
all these snails on your face!" she threatened. When Holmes wouldn't
stop laughing, she growled menacingly and grabbed his throat, which
put an end to his hysterics.
She released him after satisfying her anger without committing
homicide, and he spoke with gasps for air in between his phrases.
"My...dear...Lestrade! The...French...refer to them as escargot!" He
burst into laughs again and Lestrade demanded to know what snails had
to do with the investigation of Moriarty. "It has nothing to do with
it at all!" Holmes looked as though he would burst out again, but
continued, "Well, maybe it does, because I won't tell you what I found
today until you eat those...bugs." He had an insufferable grin on his
face, and Lestrade was about to throttle him again but he stopped her
with a reminder that she did nothing to help him in his investigation.
Beth Lestrade looked with disgust at the snail in its shell which
Holmes handed her -- long dead, of course, after being cooked in some
strange-smelling herb -- and the little pick used to pluck the snail
out to eat. Lestrade grimaced before popping the slug into her mouth,
chewing twice, than forcing it down her throat. It was chewy like a
mushroom, but she didn't bite down on it too much -- she'd probably
throw up if it were in her mouth too long. She gulped down a glass of
water to rid her mouth of the taste, hacked twice, and then waited
impatiently for Holmes to begin. But he shook his head with a mock
look of disapproval and pointed to the other snail in the bag. He
raised two fingers teasingly and leaned back from his place on the
ground, clearly enjoying Lestrade's moment of helplessness. Only when
she had finished the second snail, by the same method as the first,
did he start his talk.
"Now, the purpose of this bug...." Lestrade glared at him and he tugged at
his collar sheepishly. "Oops! Sorry, Lestrade! Ahem, the purpose of
the virus is to -- or, in fact, was to -- hack into the robot's control
system and substitute its usual program (which, by the way, included
proper etiquette) with the program outlined in the virus. This program
biased the robot's judgment so that it would keep an eye out for our
hovercraft, identified by the license plate located so conspicuously
on the back of our vehicle. Once it located us, it would choose some
excuse to confront us, then arrest us, even if it was on the pettiest
of charges. Some time would be wasted before we'd be set free again,
giving Moriarty and his henchman time to get away from the scene
without us following them.
"It became apparent from the first that, although it did its job
efficiently, this chip was not manufactured by a factory. Its simple
construction and lack of a factory symbol -- and I even had it examined
with a high power microscope analyzer -- added to and confirmed my
hypothesis that somebody made this viral chip by himself, in the comfort
of his own home. This conclusion meant that we weren't dealing with
a big company tycoon, just a simple person with some knowledge of
robots and computers. After much thought I remembered Fenwick and the
way he got our attention. My mind immediately and subconsciously
memorized the license plate, and I'm now sure that it wasn't chance
that put him in our path. I checked all the vehicle rental companies,
and at one of them I was lucky enough to find a clerk who submitted
easily to bribery.
"He confirmed that Fenwick -- not bothering to use an alias because he
had no doubt that the two of us would never track him down -- had
rented a car and returned it in a few days' time. Before I left I
tipped the man again, and he told me in a comforting English accent,
'I like you, sir, and although the ugly fellow surely wouldn't want me
to tell anybody this, he also reserved cars in many of our United
States branches.' Next the clerk handed me a list of the branches,
when the hovercrafts would be rented, and the license numbers that he
got by hacking into the company files at my request.
"I then went to the address shown on the books that Fenwick had
written down in case he needed to be contacted, but it turned out to
be owned by a ghastly woman who drove me out of the establishment with
a broomstick when I attempted to induce her." Holmes' face was a
humorous picture of injured arrogance, as if the broomstick itself had
hurt his pride. Lestrade sat still for a moment, thinking the newest
information over, and she stood with her usual energy.
"But we've got the list, and I suggest we leave Paris as soon as
possible to begin our next adventure." And they began packing in
On to Part 2!
Back to Part 8 of "The Case of the Desperate Nation"
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