The Case of the Missing Irregular

Part 9

by Stacey (SST205 at

It was getting dark when the purple and gold hovercar landed in front of Fayre Technologies. Holmes sat staring blankly out the window a moment, watching the pulse of the electric "bars" that kept anyone from entering without notice.

Watson looked out the window past his friend. "Holmes, here comes that young guard," he said, jerking the detective out of his trance.

He nodded, and Watson put the window down. The young man bent over and looked in the window. When he saw the car's occupants, his eyes widened and he said, "Mister Holmes! Mrs. Fayre is expecting you!"

The youth ran back to the gate's control panel without waiting for a response and pushed a button. The crackling electricity ceased.

"You can enter, now, sir!" the guard called, saluting.

Watson stepped on the car's accelerator, and the car moved forward. He glanced at the occupant of the passenger's seat. "Holmes, are you all right?"

"Yes, Watson." his friend answered. He was slightly angry with himself. Not now. Don't break down in front of the kids.

"Sir, are we going to get in the way?" Deidre asked from the back seat.

"Yeah, we don't want to mess anything up." Wiggins added.

Holmes shook his head. "No, my dears; you will not be in the way, nor will you 'mess anything up'. This involves you as much as anyone else."

"Oh, Lord, please get us all through this, and please help me not to let these young people down; especially Tennyson," Holmes prayed as Watson parked the car in front of the main entrance to Fayre Technologies.

Holmes and the others got out of the car and entered the building, taking a quick glance around the first room they found themselves in. The detective recognized the faces of the workers, about whose youth he'd been so amazed when he'd come here before.

They went over to the elevator, and he noted a plant sitting by the door. One of the flowers that stuck up from it had shed its petals, and they were scattered on the floor beneath the bare flower's center.

"Watson--" he said, squatting down and picking up the scattered petals in his hand. "Real flowers."

"Evidently some things have changed since we were last here, old boy," Watson said. There was a hint of cheer in his voice.

The teens behind them looked at each other. They had only heard about Holmes' and Watsons' last visit to Fayre Technologies.

"Yes--let's hope they continue to change for the better," Holmes commented, turning to the elevator door as it opened.

He stepped in, and the others followed. The door hissed shut behind them, almost ominously. On the way up no one spoke, but all cast each other tense glances. What could possibly be the "very disturbing" thing that Mrs. Fayre had gotten in the mail?

The elevator stopped its ascent, and the door opened in front of them again. The four stepped out into an office that, again, had been re-furbished with a real flowering plant here and there. On the low table to their right were some dog-eared periodicals. Holmes noted that the lights above gleamed off of the table's glass top.

At a desk in front of them sat a young lady whom Holmes recognized immediately. She sat going through a file folder.

"Miss, we're here to see Mrs. Fayre," the detective announced.

The young lady looked up and smiled. "Why, hello,Mister Holmes." She pushed a button on a small speaker on the corner of the desk and said, "Mrs. Fayre, Mister Holmes and his friends are here."

The voice that came through, Holmes noted, was tight; but its owner was making an attempt at being cheerful. "Please send them in, Anna."

The young woman at the desk nodded to Holmes, who returned the nod in thanks and headed to the door. Watson, Deidre and Wiggins followed close behind him.

The brightness of the room struck the fivesome in the eyes (in Watson's case, optical sensors, which he adjusted to accomodate himself), but after a moment they entered. Holmes noted, looking down, that a new soft carpet replaced the handmade rug upon which he'd been so careful to step.

Behind the desk in front of the window, Mrs. Fayre sat poring over a piece of paper. She was frowning deeply. When the door opened, she looked up.

"Mister Holmes," she said weakly. "Doctor Watson, kids. I'm sorry, is the light too bright?" she asked, noting her human visitors' squinting. She looked at the glass-shaded lamp on the corner of the desk and said, "Dim." Immediately the light was not quite so bright. "Sorry, I tend to forget how bright I've got it in here. Ashton had this place so dark and gloomy, I wanted to change it as soon as -- and in every way that -- I could."

"I rather like what you've done," Watson said. "--and I agree, it used to be quite stark."

Deidre looked behind Mrs. Fayre at the curtains which framed the window. "That's a lovely shade of mauve, Ma'am--are they chintz?"

Her friend's mother nodded.

Holmes sighed. He wished they could make small talk, but unfortunately, they were not here for that.

"Mrs. Fayre, the paper you were looking at -- is that what you wanted me to see?"

The woman looked down at the soiled page on the table. "Yes -- my secratary told me it came while I was gone. Please read it, sir."

Holmes took a handkerchief out of his breast pocket and picked up the note. The paper was dingy, as if it were somewhat old, and was written on in pencil. The letters of the words had been written with very straight lines. The note read:

If yew evur wan to see yer boy aliv agin, youd better do like we say. Otherwize, thisll be all thats left of im.

I'll have to get this back to Lestrade, Holmes thought. Why did the Chief Inspector have to call her away, anyhow?

Holmes looked up at the mother of the youngest Irregular. "Obviously, this person did not do well in the subjects of English or Grammar. Er -- what was the 'this' that the person referred to?"

Deidre closed her eyes when Mrs. Fayre reached for the drawer of her desk. Wiggins gulped hard. Holmes glanced at the two of them, not even wanting to think of what might be on their minds. He himself remembered a kidnapping from the past in which the kidnappers had sent something rather gruesome to the parents of the victim......

Reaching into the desk drawer, Mrs. Fayre took out something that filled the entire palm of her hand. She then closed the drawer and placed it on the desk, making a slight clunk. "It was this."

Deidre opened her eyes, and the others looked. In the center of the desk lay one of Tennyson's hearing aids.

On to Part 10!

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