The Paradol Chamber
The Paradol Chamber
By Paul Bundy
221b Baker Street
‘Pray take a chair. I can spare you five minutes if you have anything to say.’
‘All that I have to say has already crossed your mind,’ said Moriarty.
‘Then possibly my answer has crossed yours,’ replied Holmes.
‘You stand fast?’
‘You must drop it, Mr. Holmes,’ said Moriarty, swaying his face about. ‘You really must, you know.’
‘After the Fancy Dress Ball,’ retorted Holmes.
‘Tut, tut,’ said he. ‘I am quite sure that a man of your intelligence will see that there can be but one outcome to this affair. It is necessary that you should withdraw. You have worked things in such a fashion that we have only one resource left. It has been an intellectual treat to me to see the way in which you have grappled with this affair, and I say, unaffectedly, that it would be a grief to me to be forced to take any extreme measure. You smile, sir, but I assure you that it really would. You must stand clear, Mr. Holmes, or be trodden under foot.’
Moriarty drew out a memorandum-book in which he had scribbled some dates.
‘You crossed my path on the 4th of January,’ said he. ‘On the 23d you incommoded me; by the middle of February I was seriously inconvenienced by you; at the end of March I was absolutely hampered in my plans; and now, at the close of April, I find myself placed in such a position through your continual persecution that the situation is becoming an impossible one.’
‘Have you any suggestion to make?’ asked Holmes.
‘Look, just tell me which costume you’re going to be wearing to the party?’
‘Not telling…’ said Holmes
‘Bet you go as Frankenstein. You always go as Frankenstein.’
‘No, I’m not… anyway its Frankenstein’s monster actually…. Du-uh!’
‘Bet you do though. Please just tell me!’
‘Nope!’ Holmes replied.
Moriarty strode across to the bay window, clearly sulking, stamping his feet as he went.
‘Bet your Mum made your cossie…’ said the Professor.
‘Hah, that’s why you’re not telling, because your Mum made it..’ Moriarty mumbled.
‘Deaf as well stupid, eh? So, what’s the worthy Doctor going as on Saturday?’
‘I don’t know it’s a secret…’
‘Is Mary going?’ Moriarty asked his face suddenly hopeful.
‘I assume so. Yes.’
‘I hope she goes as a sexy nurse again…’
‘I am afraid,’ said Holmes, rising, ‘that in the pleasure of this conversation I am neglecting business of importance which awaits me elsewhere.’
The Professor rose also and looked at me in silence, shaking his head sadly.
‘Well, well,’ said he, at last. ‘It seems a pity, but I have done what I could. I know every move of your game. It has been a duel between you and me, Mr. Holmes. You hope to humiliate me in front of everyone. You hope to beat me. I tell you that you will never beat me. If you are clever enough to bring humiliation upon me, rest assured that I shall do as much to you.’
‘Let me say that whatever you do to me, I’m gonna do back to you…’
‘Bet your costumes rubbish anyway…’
‘Dude, talk to the hand cos the face ain’t listening.’
After our visitor had left there was just time for a quick bite to eat then on with our costumes.
‘C’mon Holmes, the cabs waiting. We’ll be late for the Disco.’
‘Watson, I have never been late…’
‘So, what’s keeping you?’
‘It’s this blasted Monster head. Give me a hand will you. What do you think Watson?’
‘That head is HUGE but it’s not huge enough!’
‘I know, I can never get this blasted forehead right…. It should be more lumpy.’
‘Well, we haven’t got time, you’ll just have to go as you are.’
‘I see you went with Dracula in the end then.’
‘Yes, I replied, I wasn’t sure, but I think I’ve got a better chance than last year.’
‘Well, as long as Moriarty and Moran don’t win that’s the main thing...’
Inside the Paradol Chamber
For plot purposes and the author being anxious to keep this under 1500 words, we suddenly found ourselves in a hansom cab pulling up outside the party venue, a place called The Paradol Chamber. The pair of us dashing up the steps, Holmes eagerly opening the doors and disappearing inside. I however remained outside.
‘Oh, for the love of heaven!’ Holmes sighed, ‘Must we go through the same fucking ritual every year? Yes, Watson, I give you permission to enter…’
‘Yay!’ Holmes cried, punching the air, ’we’ve got here first. Inside, we quickly mingled. The function room of the Paradol Chamber was heaving. There were bodies everywhere (not literally obviously) My eye was immediately caught by a stunning young lady with copper coloured hair, sitting in the corner by the central window in conversation with a scarred crooked hunchbacked fellow, like something from a Kipling tale.
‘Oh, my God,’ I gasped; ‘don’t look now, but its Violet Hunter!’
‘Goodness, she can’t possibly get away with wearing that? In public…’
‘Major Wood, Watson?...’
‘Its Corporal surely...? Oh, I see, sorry about that, Holmes. I didn’t think you’d noticed…’
‘I have a turn for observation and I’ve observed you sitting cross-legged for sometime…’
We made our way toward the party buffet. I, for one, was positively starving.
‘Damn the man, he’s beaten us to it.’ Holmes called out above the noise. I looked over to see that the Professor was already seated at the high table, a pyramid shaped arrangement.
‘He’s come dressed as a Spider!’ I exclaimed. Who’s that next to him dressed as a Tiger?’
‘That’ll be Colonel Moran. Come, Watson let us sit over here. The farther away the better.’ Holmes indicated two spare seats next to a solitary elderly gentleman.
‘No, not here’, he said, that’s old Mr Dundas, don’t sit next to him…’
‘Why ever not?’
‘You could ask his wife but she isn’t here to tell you…’
The disco soon got going. After a few vodkas, I strayed onto the dance floor, before long I was in full flow, wowing the ladies, busting some serious moves.
‘How’s it going, Watson? Holmes asked sidling across the dancefloor, shouting above the music. ‘Pulled yet?’
‘Not yet, I was just speaking to James Phillimore. He’s come as the Invisible Man.’
‘Where is he?’
‘I don’t know he was here a moment ago…’
‘What about Lady Frances?’
‘Can’t find her either…’
‘Godfrey Staunton? Hosmer Angel?’
I merely shrugged.
‘I expect they’ll turn up.’
A gap had formed in the sweaty gyrating throng around us. Into it stepped forth Moriarty.
‘Ah-hah! So, you did come as Frankenstein! The Professor stood back as if to scrutinize my friend’s appearance thoroughly. His gaze took in the scarred bulbous forehead.
‘You have less frontal development than I should have expected,’ said he, at last.
At that moment, with the realization that the whole story was leading up to that line all along, I was struck on the back of the head by a flying object.
‘Good heavens!’ I cried, dripping with sticky syrup. ‘Holmes, some blackguard has just thrown a pudding at me!’
‘Hush, Watson, the music has stopped they’re about to call out the winner.’
An announcer had stepped up and in a booming voice.
‘Ladies and Gentleman, this evenings winner….’
From out of the crowd, Miss Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory stepped up to claim her prize. The squeak of leather high-heeled boots on polished floor. Her Dominatrix attire was indeed something to behold.
‘Well that’s it then, Holmes.’ I commiserated. ‘You can’t win them all…’
‘I have been beaten four times, three times by men… and once by a woman…’
‘Who do you think threw the pudding at me?’
‘That could only be Moran. The old shikari’s nerves have not lost their steadiness, nor his eyes their keenness,” said Holmes, with a laugh, as he inspected my besmeared costume. ‘Yes, its pudding alright. Plum in the back of your head… He was the best shot in India, and I expect that there are few better in London.
‘Right, that’s it, Moran! Just stop it will you…’ I shouted.
‘Make me…’ The fierce old man glared at me. With his savage eyes and bristling moustache, he was wonderfully like a tiger himself.
The Colonel sprang forward with a snarl of rage, but the other guests dragged him back. The fury upon his face was terrible to look at. At that moment, with the author wondering how he’s going to end this, the door banged open, in staggered Doctor Mortimer.
‘I haven’t missed it have I?’ he gasped.
‘Mortimer! You’ve come dressed as Hamlet!’ cried Holmes with delight. ‘I must confess that I covet your skull!’*
*Shakespeare Reference. Title character appears holding the skull of Yorick, the former jester of Hamlet’s late father, representing the inevitability of death and the existential meaninglessness of life in light of this fact.
**Any mistakes are mine due to lack of sleep, lack of knowledge, lack of a sufficient lunch-break, the fact I couldn’t be bothered to go check them and ultimately to me being crap at writing.
***Eternal thanks as always to my Mother, without whom this would never have been written.