The Phantom

Chapter Ten

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

"After him!"

At Holmes's cry everything seemed to happen at once. They tore through the door, Watson taking it out with a well-aimed fist, and charged into the darkness beyond; up ahead they could hear running, Eugene was not far in front of them. Holmes slowed as they pressed further into the underworld maze of beneath stage.

"Amazing, Holmes," said Watson in a whisper. "These passages obviously lead through into the old London Underground." Holmes motioned at him to be quiet.

They were deep now, deep in the bowels of old London. Rusting abandoned tracks stretched out into the dark horizon in front of them, brick caged them in and the darkness came out them from all sides in one smothering black mass. Lestrade held her ioniser at the level of her eyes as they had done on the descent below the dressing room, as the Persian had done before her when he too chased the opera ghost. Holmes was in his element: old London was his London; he had breathed its Victorian grandeur as he did its 22nd Century splendour; it was his home, his business, his hobby and his life all rolled into one.

The group moved against the walls now as the sound of disturbed gravel came at them from up ahead, Eugene could not be far now. They moved silently; even Watson was surprisingly catlike as his metal body lumbered along. In the blackness piles of rubble appeared suddenly. This part of the tunnel had nearly caved in at some point in its history; bricks and concrete littered the ground. A mirror bright blade hit the ground in a little cloud of dust by Holmes's foot. They ducked behind one of the large rubble piles.

"That's far enough." It was Eugene; he sounded angry. Lestrade cursed and set her gun to stun.

"Why doesn't he just keep walking? the tunnels down here must lead for miles."

Next to her Holmes allowed himself a small smile. "Because, my dear Inspector, I came down here earlier today with one of my friends from Doncaster Building Works and had him block off the tunnel. There are no branching passageways and no exits. Eugene is trapped."

His voice was barely a whisper, but Lestrade looked worried. "You mean, no way out except through us, Holmes."

Holmes' smile faded slightly and he raised an eyebrow. "Yes, there is that, of course, but I doubt he will try anything that will put him in range of your ioniser, and if he could get a good shot at us he would have killed with the first blade. Eugene isn't the type of man to worry about firing warning shots." Another blade thudded into the top of the pile showering them with dust.

"I am warning you." Eugene's voice drifted out of the dark. "I will show no mercy, unless I am allowed to pass."

Lestrade fired a bolt over the top of the rubble. "This is the police, zedhead. Throw down the blades and come out with your hands above your head."

Holmes shook his head. "You've been watching too many westerns, Lestrade, there's no way that would ever...."

There was movement in the darkness in front of them. Eugene stood up from his hiding place. His face was white against the darkness and the blood red of his clothes; he was not smiling. It was only when Lestrade, Holmes and Watson carefully began to come out from behind the rubble that they heard the music. There were words too, in French. Holmes began to translate them almost automatically.

"Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John, brother John,
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing,
Ding Dang Dong, Ding Dang Dong.
A nursery rhyme so old even I remember it."

Lestrade shook her head. "I've never heard it before, Holmes."

Eugene was whimpering now, almost swaying where he stood. "I surrender, you hear me, police...? I surrender. Just keep him away from me...please." The last words were begging. Watson had Eugene in handcuffs before the last words were even out of his mouth. The music faded as quickly as it had come. Holmes edged around Eugene to explore the rubble. Lestrade kept her ioniser aimed at the prisoner the entire time.

"Keep who away from you?" Eugene said nothing but stared blankly at the space ahead whimpering and swaying slightly.

"Lestrade," Holmes called from the darkened wall.

"Watson, watch Eugene." The droid nodded and Lestrade went to join Holmes.

The detective, who had been blocking something from view, stepped back. "How do you suppose, Lestrade..." He began tapping something white with his cane. "...this got down here?"

Lestrade looked down. The skull of the Red Death sat among the rubble grinning wickedly; its two empty eye sockets seemed to stare beyond them with murderous intent.

TO BE CONTINUED

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