The Canary Maker

Part 3

by Daibhid Ceannaideach
8/7/04

General Disclaimer


I'm glad you all like the story . Here's part 3:
"I apologise that I could not convince your niece to stay, Mr Wilson." Holmes said. Wilson shook his head.
"You tried, Mr Holmes, you tried." He sighed. "I do worry about the girl."
"Before we leave," said Holmes, "I must confess to some curiosity about your canaries."
Wilson blinked. "Oh, of course, Mr Holmes. Follow me."
He led us down to the celler, which was indeed set out as a robotics lab. Canaries in varied states of assembly were scattered across a workbench, while one wall was filled with completed birds. Apart from their metallic colouring they appeared in every respect like real canaries.
As we watched, one of them, which was evidently been tested, as it sat on a perch aside from the others, opened its beak and gave out a shrill, exceedingly loud shriek. If I had not been a robot myself, I would have winced, and I was impressed by the fortitude of Holmes and Lestrade, who merely stared at it curiously. Wilson switched it off with an irritated snort.
"Malfunction," he said shortly. He flipped open the canary's head and began adjusting the holochips with his microspanner. He was clearly as lost in his work as Holmes could become, and barely looked up as we said our goodbyes.
"Well," said Lestrade pointedly, as the cruiser took off, "That was a waste of time."
"I'm inclined to agree," admitted Holmes, "And yet...."
"And yet?" I prompted.
"And yet, there is *something*. I don't know what it is, but every instinct I have tells me there is *something*. For a start, what about the soothing lamps? I'm sure such items are available in the shops, and are surely more reliable than ones designed by an amateur roboticist!"
"Maybe he has ideas that don't jibe with the pros," Lestrade suggested, "Some guys get precious about their own amateur theories." Holmes ignored the barb.
"At least we've solved the mystery of the scream in the night." I offered.
"We have?" Lestrade asked in surprise.
"Well, of course. Doubtless it was another malfunctioning canary. I'm sure that shriek could easily be interpreted as a woman's dying cry by the suggestable."
Holmes and Lestrade were looking at me oddly "What shriek?" asked Lestrade. Before I could respond, Holmes jumped up.
"Of course!" he shouted. "Lestrade, do you have Miss Wilson's personal com-code?"
"Well, yes," the inspector replied. "But why...?"
"Put a call through to her, and turn the cruiser around!"
A moment later Jen Wilson's face appeared on the videophone. "Hello, Mr Holmes." she said.
"Miss Wilson, does your uncle know you've received this call?" Holmes demanded.
"Uh, no, he's still down in the celler, working on his canaries."
"Excellent. Miss Wilson, I am afraid you are in grave danger. I have two questions for you: You mentioned you suffered the same sleep disorder as your mother and brother. Did your uncle offer you the same remedy?"
"Well, yes, he did."
"And you also have inherited your mother's cardiac problems?"
"Yes. Mr Holmes, can I ask...?"
"No time, your uncle may notice the com is in use. Listen, tonight you must sleep in your brother's room. Don't let your uncle know. Lestrade, Watson and I shall occupy your room."
"But how will you..."
"I have faith in Lestrade's ability to get through your building's security if necessary. I understand that deactivating it will seem suspicious. Expect us around eleven."
With that, he abruptly cut the connection.
"Quickly, Lestrade. If we hurry we may prevent a third murder."
"Murder?" I said.
"Of course. The canaries, the lamps, Mr Wilson's former profession. I should have seen it all before!"
Lestrade and I exchanged baffled glances.
"Quickly!" Holmes repeated. Lestrade accelerated.

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