The Singular Affair of the Second Moriarty

Chapter Seven

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at
Watson was hidden. The darkness of the underground garage was no trouble to someone whose sensors could read through hotel doors; he was sure he was alone...and he was also sure he had the car keys a second ago.
'Watson!' came the voice at the other end of the communicator. 'You have two seconds to tell me you are joking.'
Watson began scanning the ground again. 'I’m not, Miss Moriarty. I had them when I left the hotel and now they’re gone.'
Strong cursing erupted from the other end of the phone; if Watson was capable he would have blushed.
'They’re taking off, Watson; I can’t risk losing him if the fog comes again. How far can you track this homing device?'
'Unless you leave the county I’ll catch up to you.' He scanned the walls.
'Somehow.' Tessa hissed at the other end of the communicator. 'They’re speeding up, I can’t hold a conversation and fly at the same time. If you find the keys in the next ten minutes, fine; if not break in. We need you as soon as possible, Watson...damn tunnel.'
Watson shuddered as the communicator broke into fizz. Now, he thought to himself as he walked slowly round the car, where did I last have them....
Wind ripped past her body as she followed her target at distance above the clouds. Leaning into the wind her body at a fifty-five degree angle to the board helped decrease the wind resistance and she had been doing so for an hour. Her ankles and legs, although reinforced by her boots, ached terribly. Three months ago I could get down to thirty, she thought to herself, and I would think nothing of full speed flying for hours on end. Definitely need some training time on the practise board, Tessa my girl, you’re getting sloppy. She tucked her hands behind her back and pressed her arms into the curve of her body. She needed every extra mile per hour she could get; the car was nearing full speed on some unfamiliar terrain and was keeping well into the clouds.
Suddenly Tessa noticed that the car had not come out of the last cloud. Braking sharply she began to descend into the cloud layer, letting the freezing white mist close over her slowly. Puzzled by the car's disappearance, she saw the headlights coming at her only just in time. Performing a stunt manoeuvre, a bad version of a midair backflip, she threw the boasters on her board into disarray, diving for the cloudcover to one side just in time to see the shape of the car slide along beside her. She crouched down as it passed close enough for her to get a brief look at the covered face of the Shadow. Mine, she thought, in just a little while you’ll be mine.
Arching her back as the car faded into the clouds ahead, she winced. She’d pulled a back muscle, but was more worried about the fact that the car had slowed down; surely he hadn’t seen her. As the boasters synchronised themselves again she prepared to follow them out of the cloud.
The blue car descended slowly into the shadows of the old industrial estate on the edge of New London. The estate was practically late 21st century and was now waiting to be pulled down to make way for something more modern and less polluting. The car’s shiny blue metal was in sharp contrast to the rusty machinery that lay scattered here and there around the site. Giant corroded pipes rose up out of the floor and then sunk again like weird serpents in a grey sea. The car slowed as it manoeuvred around the back of a building over two large chemical drums that had been positioned to block as much of the entrance as possible, at least from the ground. A sign over the door had once read ‘Hellan’s Chemical Works’ but now most of the paint had rubbed off of the corroding metal and all that could be clearly read was the first four letters of the word Hellan’s.
The Shadow chuckled as he saw the sign pass overhead; there would certainly be screams by the end of the evening, and maybe something involving hot iron if Holmes held out too long. The body in the back didn’t stir as it was pulled roughly out of the car and dumped on some blankets on a platform at one end of the cavernous room. The chemical vats that the room housed were immense in size and now covered in rust; one had a gaping jagged hole in its side. They all had bridges going between them, rickety little things a few of which had fallen into the tanks below.
The Shadow flicked on the computer sitting on a metal desk, one of the few modern things in the room. The screen sprang into life, showing a waiting call. The Shadow’s face darkened but he answered it anyway. An image of a woman came up on the screen, jet-black hair framed a cruel and scarred face; a patch covered her left eye and the other was scowling into the screen.
'When I said you were to be available for contact at all times, Oreo...' she said, glaring out of the screen, '...I meant it. I have been trying to reach you for over two hours.'
The Shadow bowed his head to the screen. 'Forgive me, Scar, I had important work to complete.' He gestured to the unconscious detective behind him 'Behold! Sherlock Holmes, the last step before my work is complete.'
The woman stroked a magpie that had settled itself just inside the screen. 'It was about your work that I wanted to talk to you, Oreo. The Lestrade woman, I was not consulted.'
'It was of little importance Scar.'
'Kidnapping Greyson's favourite detective was of little importance! I did not think you were so stupid, Oreo.'
The Shadow stiffened; his eyebrows furrowed; his eyes glowed. 'Perhaps one of his young friends would have been more suitable to you, yes.'
'Perhaps!...But it is too late to worry about now. When can I expect...completion of the project?'
'Three days at the latest; the nineteenth century's finest and worst are no match for me.' Scar smiled.
'Let us hope so. The two you have now, what will you do with them?'
'I bought a few barrels of chemicals with me, yes; a few days sitting in concentrated acid and there will be nothing left of our two bloodhounds.' He paused, allowing a sick smile to play on his lips; his eyes sparkled. 'Who knows... I might even kill them first.'

On to Part 8!
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