The Phantom

Chapter Six

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)

Dodger started. "Through walls? Impossible, ridiculous."

Holmes raised an eyebrow. "Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. The footprints of both our stranger and Miss Morris end here, so either they went through the wall or up it."

"But the walls are solid... are you suggesting a real ghost?"

Holmes laughed. "Not at all. This is an old school; I assume in that time the building has been altered more than once. Our stranger may not have been able to really walk through walls, but an old doorway into a cupboard or suchlike, covered over by a thin layer of plaster and maybe later a mirror! It would only take a few minor adjustments to complete the trick."

Dodger frowned. "So all we need to find is the catch or lever to release it."

Holmes smiled and nodded. "Watson, be a good chap and scan the area around the mirror would you, specifically for protruding nails, or large amounts of metal in the walls compared to the surrounding space."

Watson fell silent for a minute. "On the left hand side, Holmes, about 3 inches down from the top corner, the fifth vine leaf seems to be linked to some old-fashioned gear and weight mechanism."

Holmes examined the leaf and smiled. "Young man, would you be so kind as to turn the light off and remove your coat from the door? Watson, dear chap, you must have a flashlight in that storage space of yours somewhere."

"Indeed I do, Holmes."

Soon, by the feeble light of the torch on its lowest setting, the detective motioned his companions behind him and pushed in the leaf. There was a grating noise, and the glint of the mirror slowly disappeared into the wall. Holmes swung the torch around the passage.

Roger grabbed his arm and pointed to the floor. "There's so much dust in here it seems ancient but that's a path in the dust. Someone must have been up and down here practically every day."

Holmes nodded. "I had noticed."

Shouts erupted from the other side of the dressing room door. "Zed," whispered Roger. "That's old Smiler, the security guard."

Holmes darted fully into the passage and motioned the others to follow him. Watson had only just got inside when the mirror started to slide back into place.

"It must be on a timer," said Holmes.

Roger started as the mirror finished sliding into place. "Hey, it's a one way mirror."

They watched as the guard finished opening the door and stumbled into the room, flashlight and ioniser at the ready. He shook his head and walked out again looking confused.

"That's just perverted, looking into a girl's dressing room like that. At least they have a chance of finding peepholes, but this is virtually undetectable."

Holmes stared out into the room for a second looking puzzled, then turned and examined the passage floor. "They went this way." he whispered. "No one is to say a word from now on until I say so; this passage can carry noise far."

The three wandered in silence down the dark musty concrete passage for what must have seemed like an age. Sometimes it turned, sometimes seemed to run straight forever, but carried on always downwards at a gentle slope. Occasionally they came across the odd abandoned and broken piece of scenery or prop that may have once littered the floor but now lay neatly at the side of the passage. Gradually, out of the eerie silence, small indistinguishable noises began to form and eventually become clearer. Holmes stopped and made a motion for them to the same. The voices were still muffled as if behind a door or wall. A single light shone out from behind a corner ahead. The detective moved forward slowly and then disappeared round the corner.

On to Part 7!

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