Investigator Extraordinary, Part 1: TBD

James Weston, M. D., looked up from his newspaper and peered at the window. It could not be said that he looked out of it, for there was nothing to see except thick fog and, but for the gas lighting at their doorstep, nothing would have been seen except a dark grey blanket of mist. It was late evening now and the fog had not lifted all day. He was wondering if he would see his companion, with whom he shared the flat, when suddenly the door was flung open and Simon Holst burst into the room. Weston understood the excitement in his manner instantly.

“What is it Holst? What new crime...?”

“Crime? The worst of crimes! But get your coat and hat – and do bring your old service revolver, for we cannot know where our investigations may lead this night. Now let me see, where are those dark-lanterns?”

In minutes, they had accoutred themselves for the hunt: gun, stout sticks and dark-lanterns. Weston noticed his friend slip an unusual object into his jacket pocket, a slim tortoise-shell case. He had not seen this before and wondered what it contained. Outside in the fog Weston discovered that his friend had a cab waiting. The two great lanterns atop the cab hardly penetrated the dimness all around. Nevertheless, when Holst knocked the cab roof with his cane and called out “The Docks!”, they rumbled forward easily enough, if somewhat slowly, and trotted on into the thickening smog.

Down by the docks the fog was worse. Not thicker or more impenetrable, but damper and colder, so that even in his thick coat Weston felt his bones chill. By the dockside was the squarish, high-backed form of a police van; a constable’s dim outline could be seen standing by its horse. Down slippery and slimy steps they went, towards a group of men, illuminated faintly by lamps they held, crouching over something.

“Ah, Mr Holst. I might have known you would turn up. This is surely your kind of thing: bizarre it is, and gruesome.”

The one who spoke was a ferret-faced man in plain clothes, though his manner and style of dress still proclaimed him a policeman. As he stood aside to let the newcomers through, Weston caught sight of the object they were gathered around. It was gruesome indeed. Once it had been a man but now it was a hideously torn carcase, the ragged clothes upon it soaked in half-congealed blood. As the doctor and his companion peered closely, in the light of his dark-lantern Weston could see that the skin was strangely discoloured, greenish looking. The fresh scars and tears on the skin were vicious and could only have been made by a large creature. Surely not by anything to be found in the city? Holst finally looked up.

You can find the complete version of Investigator Extraordinary, Part 1 in issue 57 of TBD.

Stuart McPherson