by Borthall Gollolloll
Sherlock Holmes had opened his mouth to reply, when the door flew open, and Peterson, the commissionaire, rushed into the apartment with flushed cheeks and the face of a man who is dazed with astonishment.
“The goose, Mr. Holmes! The goose, sir!” he gasped.
“Eh? What of it then? Has it returned to life and flapped off through the kitchen window?”
And then, the doctor started to do that which his most loyal fans never expected of him.
He started to lie.
The enormous blue stone, the Countess, the hotel burglary . . . all lies.
How did the story actually go.
“No, Mr. Holmes, it bit Sarah!”
“I’ve no time for jokes, Peterson. Your wife nipping a finger in the beak of a goose she was preparing is no cause for rushing back.”
“Is she all right?” Watson interrupted, as he so often did in real life.
“No, Dr. Watson, she’s got a fever,” Peterson said, his desperation showing through. “I need you to come back with me, not Mr. Holmes.”
Watson grabbed his medical bag, his coat and hat. “Let’s go.”
It was no “The game is afoot!” but Watson was not going to sell his own adventures to The Strand Magazine. The simple words worked for him.
When they arrived at Peterson’s flat and went quickly to where Sarah Peterson’s sickbed.
She was not there.
As Peterson look about wildly in panic, Watson heard something at the door to the room. Shuffling, shambling . . . he almost didn’t see it at first over the bed.
It was the goose.
The goose was going after Peterson. Eyes glazed, broken neck floppily holding its head in a Peterson-direction. It couldn’t raise it above the level of the comissionaire’s boots, and it bit at those boots like the leather was its first meal in a year.
Peterson picked it up by the neck and held it at arm’s length. Its jaws just kept snapping.
“Why is it doing that, Dr. Watson?” he asked, frightened, not of the goose, but what it represented.
“I don’t know,” Watson replied.
“It doesn’t make any sense at all,” snuffled Mrs. Peterson from the door, both hands wrapped around a steaming cup of tea. “You should take it to Mr. Holmes.”
“Sarah!” Peterson exclaimed. “You’re up! Feeling better?”
“I think so.”
Watson put his hand on her forehead. “Not too warm.”
“I’m still very tired. Can you take that thing to Sherlock Holmes? It’s keeping me from getting a good sleep.”
Dr. Watson told the Petersons that he would carry the animated goose corpse back to 221B, and they thanked him profusely.
His arm was tired, after holding it outstretched for the entire walk home, and IWatson retrieved a length of cord from Mrs. Hudson before returning upstairs so he could put a leash on the bird and tie it to one of the heavier pieces of furniture. When heI made my way upstairs, however, the doctor found that Sherlock Holmes was speaking with a client.
“Ah, Watson!” Holmes said with obvious delight, “This is Professor Henry Baker of the British Museum.”
“My goose!” Baker cried at the sight of the snapping goose. “You’ve found my goose!”
“This monstrosity is your goose?” Doctor Watson asked, considering what an awful pet this thing must be. It was starting to smell a bit gamey.
“Professor Baker, it seems, has been experimenting in re-animation,” Holmes explained. “This goose, according to our learned friend, is powered by a cursed gem, rather than that divine life force which fills a normal living creature.”
“It’s not wearing any jewelry,” Watson observed.
“No, Dr. Watson,” Professor Baker said. “The stone was inserted into the goose.”
“Into the goose?”
As if to confirm the professor’s statement, a sound of borborygmous came from the direction of the goose, followed by the most awful blast of flatulence that Baker Street ever endured, and the sound of a hard object dropping onto the carpet, and then followed by the site of the goose dropping over as dead as a stone.
“The Morcar carbuncle!” Sherlock Holmes cried out, as he picked the stone up with his handkerchief and wiped it off. “There’s a reward for this.”
“What?” Baker gasped. “Are you saying that it was part of some crime? My new assistant, John Robinson, said he discovered it in the wilds of Haiti, where he first observed its power to restore the dead.”
“His name is not John Robinson,” Holmes told the professor, “but James Ryder. Scotland Yard and I have been hot on his trail for weeks, about to close our nets and catch him with his stolen gem. I suspect he was using you for cover, or perhaps to take the blame.”
“But the goose! You saw how it was alive when the blue carbuncle was giving it that dark energy that somehow replaced its soul!”
Sherlock Holmes shook his head sadly.
“Watson, you are our medical man. Would you kindly insert your finger in the goose’s rectum and see what results?”
John H. Watson had dared much and trusted much in Sherlock Holmes, so this simple, standard medical procedure was not something he could refuse, even though he was a doctor of men, and not geese.
The very moment his little finger slid into the goose’s cloacal vent, the bird popped back to life and started snapping at everything near its beak.
“You would be bad tempered, too, if you were so treated!” Sherlock Holmes said with some amusement. “I think we shall keep his non-magical gem here to return to its rightful owner, but you Professor Baker are now the proud owner of a self-resurrecting trick goose, which is probably worth as much to a traveling carnival as the reward for returning this stone.”
“I suppose that is only fair,” Baker said, disappointedly. “I just wish this goose looked a little more alive.”
“That’s probably why it’s still alive,” Holmes laughed. “It’s natural defense mechanism is looking like it has nothing of value that any predator would want.”
“I will agree to that,” Watson agreed to that.
“Then Merry Christmas, Professor Baker, and be sure to have your holiday goose stuffed with something other than stolen gems!”
Baker laughed and led his goose out the door.
“Go wash your hands, Watson,” said Sherlock Holmes. “Digito tuo fuit blandeque coruscant ascendit in anseris aequabis!”
And I went and washed my hands of the whole matter, vowing to find some way to write it up in a more entertaining way than it actually happened.