The Phantom

Chapter Ten

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)
5/12/02

The path in the dust was wide now, the stone passage dragged clear by Rachel's long dress as she and the Phantom passed through the tunnels. The trio did not bother with a flashlight. Luminous patches had been stuck to the walls; their pale creamy light made the whole scene almost surreal. Holmes motioned them forwards slowly and cautiously. Lestrade was sure their quarry could hear her breathing. Her heart thumped loudly against her ribs.

Watson was the first to find the traps. Without warning there was a snapping sound of breaking wire; a silver line stretched between the two walls broke at one end and wound itself round the droid's neck at high speed, If his hand had not been there to stop it, the wire would have spun until his neck was crushed.

As Holmes and Lestrade unwound Watson, Holmes pointed out the tiny catch at one end of the wire and spoke to his companions in barely more than a whisper. "Basically a tightly coiled spring stretched out under immense pressure...this is what Roger wanted to warn us about...we must be careful. Our quarry obviously has no qualms about killing us!"

Once discovered the wires were easy to spot. They always appeared where the glow from the patches was least. Even so, Watson went first now. Even with their hands at the level of their eyes, the wires could cut Holmes and Lestrade like a blade through butter. As they travelled through the dark passage a glow appeared at the other end and seemed to get lighter and lighter until they came to the very corner Holmes had vanished around. On the other side there were men's voices. Holmes did not need to tell the other two to be silent. In the darkness they waited and listened....

"....were supposed to keep the trapdoors open...then that boy was waiting for me offstage, dared to try and block my passage -- easy prey -- but nevertheless you were supposed to arrange matters. Can you not even do such simple things?"

There was the rustling of movement. Behind the wall they could hear the agitated pacing of one person, and another nervously tapping a foot against the stone floor. Holmes held a crouch, fingers splayed on the floor. His body was tense and his eyes seemed to have a glow of their own. Lestrade rested on the balls of her feet, back flat against the wall, her eyes trying to make sense of various shadows playing against the wall next to them. Watson simply stood and waited, not only his eyes but his sensors buzzing with information. They waited.

"And the girl...she actually tried to get away from me! Is this your idea of planning? Did you think it was funny? Were you sniggering away below the stage?"

"No, Eugene, I swear I opened all the trapdoors you said, just before the second act started. I did everything you wanted...ain't it funny, though? I told you that Dodger looks exactly like..." There was a hiss. Holmes adjusted position ever so slightly, his eyes never moving from the shadows on the wall.

"I know who he looks like, you imbecile, and don't even think about mentioning that name in front of me. We have to get out of here. It won't take them long to find the entrance to this place. It's one thing evading the school security guards; it's quite another dodging the police."

"And Rachel, what do we do with her? She's practically drumming out the door in there as it is!"

There was silence for a minute.

"We do the same as we did the last one! With all the attention fixed on the stage, the roof should be quite empty...."

"Hang on. You didn't say nothing about this to me...I mean, last time, at least that was an accident. But this...this would be murder."

There was more silence; the pacing had stopped. The voice that followed was slow and deliberate, full of unconcealed malice. "Your problem is?"

For a full minute there was a heavy silence and then the fast footsteps and a heavy thud as two people collided, scuffling and finally the sound of frantic choking.

"Don't think you can get away now, Davis. I own you, remember. You live and die at my whim." More choking and the sound of thrashing legs followed.

Holmes grabbed Lestrade's hand and pushed it onto her ioniser. With that he disappeared round the corner, motioning for them to follow. It was a scene of chaos that greeted them. On the floor sprawled the figure of Gordon Davis, his face red, his brown hair messed and dusty, coughing and spluttering. Chairs and boxes lay either side of him, knocked over in his rush to escape; but it was what was behind him that held their attention.

It was a man in his late twenties, his face cruel and contorted with rage. The same brown hair fell in strands over his forehead. His arm wrapped round Gordon's throat. In the distance there was the faint thumping of wood. Lestrade held her ioniser like a shield and Holmes readied his cane. The man stood up and the mask of rage instantly dissolved. He loosened his grip on Gordon's throat, but kept the boy in front of him, even though the drama student was half-fainting.

Holmes moved closer. "Let him go, Eugene. It's finished. You can't hide and there's nowhere to run."

Eugene almost smiled. A blade appeared in his hand and he pressed it to the side of Gordon's throat. "These kill at a distance, Mr Policeman. Imagine what they do close up." He pressed his mouth to Gordon's ear and grinned broadly. "Do you think we should show them, Davis!" The boy went white and his eyes widened. Eugene moved so fast it was almost unreal.

Holmes dived just as the blade bit into the wall behind him. Lestrade fired. The bolt screamed through the air and hit Gordon straight in the chest; he slumped in the others' arms. Eugene found himself dragging a dead weight. He snarled and dropped the body, running back through a small door to the side.

On to Part 11!

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