The Case of the Missing Irregular

Part 4

by Stacey (SST205 at aol.com)

Holmes was back in his room and dressed before Watson could shut the computer off, put his own coat on over his metallic frame and find the car keys.

"What do you think could have happened, Holmes?" the compudroid asked as he got into the driver's seat of the car.

"I don't know, Watson," answered the detective, climbing into the passenger's seat. "But judging from the fact that Caroline Fayre really has nothing anyone would be interested in stealing, I fear the worst."

Watson flew as fast as it was allowed by law through the sky over New London. Within minutes, he was landing in front of the Fayre's home.

Holmes was immediately out of the car. Inspectors from the Yard were everywhere. He saw the familiar face of Beth Lestrade, and headed for the gate.

No sooner had he gotten through the gate with Watson than Chief Inspector Grayson came over to Lestrade's side.

"Lestrade, he's the last person who needs to be here," he complained. "Why'd you call him?"

"Because it's in his interest, sir." Lestrade answered, taking a step toward Holmes.

"Yes, personal interest," the Chief Inspector grumbled. "Which is exactly why he shouldn't be here."

Holmes was directly in front of Lestrade by that time. "Good morning, Chief Inspector," he said, then turned his eyes on his friend. "Lestrade, what's happened?"

Inspector Lestrade looked down at the ground a moment, then directly into his eyes. Her own, he noted, were hard and distressed.

"I'm afraid -- something not good, Holmes," she said, motioning toward the open front door of the house. "You'd better go in."

Her words chilled the detective to the bone. He got the distinct feeling that whatever it was had something to do with why he couldn't sleep last night. Just before going in, he noted one of the inspectors dusting the sill of an open window for fingerprints.

Inside, the air almost seemed to drop a few degrees. Holmes took in the surroundings of the normally quaint-seeming sitting room: two inspectors were in a corner comparing notes, and on the couch by the wall to the right was a woman whose clothes were disheveled, as if she had dressed without taking much thought. Her hair had been pulled hastily back, and the blue ribbon in her hair was knotted.

Holmes walked over and placed a hand gently on her shoulder. "Miss Fayre?"

She lifted her face out of her hands and looked up at him. Her dark blue eyes were red and puffy, either from lack of sleep or crying, or both.

"Mister Holmes," she said in a weak voice. "Thank the Lord you're here."

"What has happened, Miss Fayre?" Watson asked.

The woman looked up at them both, and opened her mouth slightly. Instead of speaking, she closed her mouth and turned her gaze toward the hall.

Holmes took it as a cue. "Come, Watson."

He left the woman on the couch, walked around the coffee table and headed down the hall. He could not remember the last time his heart had pounded so hard. He was barely aware of Watson's steps behind him.

At the end of the hall was the lavatory, and to the right the door to Miss Fayre's room. Holmes took note of a length of rope which had been dropped just inside the woman's bedroom door.

He turned to the left, and the open door to the second bedroom.

"Holmes...."

Not meaning to ignore Watson, but because his mouth and throat had gone dry, Holmes stepped into the room without saying anything. After swallowing a few times, he began to be analytical.

"Judging from the direction the bedding has been pulled, Watson, I surmise that someone came in here, stood on this side, and hauled our young friend right out of his bed."

That was obvious, even to Watson, seeing that the other side of the bed was against the wall. "Holmes," he said quietly, "Are you all right?"

Holmes swallowed hard, and ran his hand over the blue cotton on the top of the quilt. "Such fine stitching...I'm sure Miss Fayre made this herself." He shuddered, wondering what hard, cold environment his young friend could be in now. "Come, Watson, we must ask Miss Fayre what transpired here."

Watson let his friend pass him and go out the door. After eyeing the empty hoverchair in the far corner of the room, he followed.

On to Part 5!

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