The Canary Maker

Part 1

by Daibhid Ceannaideach

General Disclaimer

You might recall me posting here ages ago, asking if there was any interest in a fic based on the "classic" pastiche "The Deptford Horror", written by Conan Doyle's son. Well, it took longer than I thought, owing to real life stuff getting in the way, but here's Part One:

The Canary Maker by Daibhid Ceannaideach

Based on "The Adventure of the Deptford Horror" by Adrian Conan Doyle

Part One of Five

It was the October of 2105 and Holmes had not had a case for some time. He had become impatient and irritable, and I was becoming concerned for him. While the addictions of his previous life no longer affected him, the personality that viewed them as a viable alternative to boredom remained. I had no wish to lose my friend to some designer drug of the 22nd century. With this in mind, I proposed we went out for the evening.
"Where do you suggest?" asked Holmes, staring out the window. "Covent Garden has become a shopping mall."
I scanned the entertainment listings. "The Holodeon is showing 'Doc Challenger and the Martian Depths'." I suggested.
Holmes turned to me. "I was never impressed by your literary agent's adventure stories. I doubt I'd enjoy them any better once Holowood was finished with them."
"All right." I said, "What about the Holocade? We could brush up our targeting skills."
"My dear Watson," laughed Holmes, "the difference between firing an ionizer and one of their blasters is so great that they are practically different skills altogether. However, I can see you are determined I enjoy myself, whether I want to or not, so we shall go."
At the Holocade, Holmes chose a simple target-shooting game, similar to clay-pigeon shooting. While he continued to insist he was doing this purely for my benefit, his eyes brightened as he picked off the swooping holo-clays. When a cluster of them exploded into the letters "V.R.", I knew he was enjoying himself.
As we were leaving we almost bumped into Lestrade. "Good evening, Inspector," I said, "Not here on business again I trust?"
"Nah." she said, "Just that this place has better facilities than the Yard firing-range."
Holmes launched into his explanation of the differences between a blaster and ioniser. Lestrade looked unimpressed.
"A standard blaster, sure. Mine's designed to simulate ioniser recoil."
Before Holmes could respond, it occured to me that this chance meeting might help me occupy his mind. "Have you had any interesting cases lately, Lestrade?" I asked.
She shook her head. "Nothing to interest Holmes, or I'd have called you." she said. "At the moment, I'm dealing with a young girl convinced her house is cursed."
"Really?" said Holmes. "Do tell me more."
"It's nothing. Last year, a woman living in Deptford, one Honour Wilson, died in her sleep. Nothing odd about it, she had a genetic heart disorder that gene-therapy couldn't cure, and simply suffered a cardiac arrest. There was talk of people outside hearing a scream, but there often is.
"She shared the house with her son and daughter, and her brother-in-law, Theo.
"Last week her son, Philip, was found dead in a chair. He inherited his mother's heart problem, and the police medscan showed he'd also had a heart attack. Now..."
"One moment, Lestrade." Holmes interrupted. "Who discovered Phillip?"
"The daughter, Jen Wilson." Lestrade answered. "She'd just got back from seeing 'Doc Challenger' at the Holodeon."
"I see." said Holmes. "And why, given the evidence, was a police medscan deemed necessary?"
"Jen Wilson insisted." said Lestrade. "Her brother had what she called 'a look of horror' on his face, but that's not unusual."
"Not in cases of cardiac arrest." I confirmed.
"So now, Jen's inherited the house. But she blames it for her family's deaths, and plans to sell up and move abroad, if not off planet."
"Quite understandable," I said, "but I don't see..."
"Where the Yard comes in? Theo Wilson wants us to convince Jen she's got nothing to be worried about."
"Understandable," said Holmes. "After all, if she sells the house, where is he going to live?"
"That did occur to me, but the guy *seems* to be genuinely concerned about his neice. Mind you, it'd be difficult for him to find another house with a robotics lab in the cellar."
"Wilson is a roboticist?" I asked. "I don't recognise the name."
"He wouldn't be on the list of approved compudroid technicians." Lestrade smiled, "He's invented a speciality of his own."
"Indeed." said Holmes, shortly, clearly nettled by the fact Lestrade knew something he didn't, and was keeping it to herself. The phrase "turnabout is fair play" entered my CPU, but I decided to keep it to myself.
"So, that's it," Lestrade concluded. "Nothing to it at all."
"I see." said Holmes. "Come on, Watson. We're going to Deptford."
Lestrade blinked. "Not without me, you're not."

On to Part 2!
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