Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Strange Casefiles of Horatio Morgan, Chapter 1

Victorian Era, London, England, Dawn, Autumn:

"Those bastards!" exclaimed Horatio Morgan, slamming the day's edition of "The Times" down on the scratched wooden table, spilling his coffee. "Thaddeus, listen to this headline: 'Holmes and Watson Foil Robbery in Progress.' They happened to be in a bank at the right time and they get all of the attention. I swear, if those two phonies keep hogging every crime in London as they have been, I'll be out on the streets!"

"Too true, sir, too true," replied Thaddeus in his metallic, hollow voice, as he wiped up the spilled drink.

Horatio Morgan was London's premiere detective. That is, until Sherlock Holmes came on the scene. Now Horatio is old news and can't find work anywhere.

"For God's sake, Thaddeus! I invented a robot, and no one even knows. Those two could get a cat out of a tree and make the front page!"

"Too true, sir," replied Thaddeus, who was scrubbing Horatio's dishes in a sink already piled high with them.

"Thaddeus, I believe your voice pipes are malfunctioning again."

"Too true, sir."

Horatio walked over to the sink, nearly tripping over piles of books, and smacked Thaddeus in his cast-iron back.

Thaddeus is a robot.

"Much obliged, sir," Thaddeus said.

"My pleasure. Now what can we do about this lack of business?"

Horatio paced back and forth behind Thaddeus. He was wearing black trousers held up by overalls and a white button-up shirt. He had shaggy black hair that jutted out in different directions and a short but full black beard and moustache. Thaddeus was made entirely of iron and ran on steam heated by coal. His body was a huge cylinder with a hatch on the front for putting more coal in. His head was a dome on top of the cylinder with two round eyes indented into it and a grate through which exhausted steam poured out constantly. He had two bulky cylindrical arms and two legs of the same description.

Thaddeus was responsible for the general upkeep of Horatio's extremely narrow five-story house. The house was one of the strangest pieces of architecture in London, and therefore Horatio could live in no other dwelling. There was a spiral staircase that went straight up through the middle of the circular house, which consisted of a kitchen and dining room on the first floor, a bathroom on the second floor, a library on the third, Horatio's bedroom on the fourth, and his study on the fifth. Due to the stairs going through the center of the house, it was impossible to get anywhere above the first floor without walking through the middle of the bathroom, which would have been an extremely uncomfortable situation if Horatio wasn't the only human being in the house. Horatio was an avid reader, and every iota of free space in the house was taken up by books, paper and pens.

Horatio was still pacing back an forth in the kitchen when a gun shot rang out. Both Thaddeus and Horatio grabbed their belts with with their holstered guns and ran out the door. Horatio snagged his black bowler's hat and bag off of the hook next to the door as he shut it behind him.

Running in the direction of the sound, they both came upon a narrow alley where they found a man's body with three bullet wounds in it and a pool of blood forming around him. The sun was just starting to spread its fiery light over the distant horizon, bathing the scene in orange.

"Thaddeus, search for the shooter, quickly!" Horatio ordered. Thaddeus darted off around the block. Horatio knelt to inspect the body. He lifted the left arm and felt for a pulse.

"Already dead," he murmured. He took a pair of tweezers out of his bag and set to work removing the bullets.

"No sign of anyone," said Thaddeus, returning to the alley.

"Well maybe these will help," said Horatio, holding up a blood-drenched projectile. "Any idea where one can acquire silver bullets, Thaddeus?"

At that moment, a woman in her nightgown dashed into the alley.

"Oh God," she whispered. "No. Roderick, no!"

She fell to her knees as tears began to fall in tragic torrents from her eyes. Her gown was a deep purple and her hair a jet black. She sobbed into her hands.

"Ma'am," Horatio said gently, "who was he to you?

"My husband," she choked.

"I'm sorry for your loss. Do you have any idea who might have done this? I'm a detective, and it's imperative that we act as swiftly as possible to catch the murderer."

"I don't know who. Must be the same as the other killings," she mumbled.

"What other killings?" Horatio asked, alarmed.

"Someone has targeted our people. We thought it was a coincidence with the first two, but this confirms it."

"Your people? Who do you mean?"

"He never hurt anyone. He was always in control. Why did this happen?" she said, now getting louder.

"Ma'am, you're in shock. Please tell me, who are your people?" Horatio asked urgently.

"My husband," said the woman, "he was a werewolf."

To be continued...

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