Competition Judge: Sean Cregan
As Sean Cregan, John has published The Levels and The Razor Gate for Headline UK: “The explosive debut novel from the brilliant Sean Cregan – The Levels is a dark, urban gothic thriller guaranteed to appeal fans of Child, Coben, Billingham and Kernick…Sean writes full time, and published four novels under his real name, before changing style, content, publisher and identity to something much more fun.” (Amazon). Writing under his own name, John Rickards has published Winter’s End, The Touch of Ghosts, The Darkness Inside and Burial Ground for Penguin UK. Read Crimeculture’s review of The Levels, and “Steve Mosby & Sean Cregan interview each other” (February 2010).
When he agreed to act as judge for Crimeculture’s Holmes competition, John expressed regret that he wouldn’t be able to enter his own Cthulhu Holmes stories, “with the Great Old One Detective, his gibberingly-insane sidekick Doctor, his foreknowledge of all cases put before him and his habit of eating clients.” We, too, regretted this loss, and in compensation are very pleased to be able to publish here “Cthulhu Holmes & The Case Of The Missing Brother”.
Cthulhu Holmes & The Case Of The Missing Brother
by John Rickards
The clock had barely chimed two in the afternoon when the young woman knocked somewhat nervously on the door. Cthulhu Holmes had been out on one of His customary strolls along the Thames, and was playfully tossing a seaman from tentacle to tentacle, teasing him with the horror of the fate that had already befallen two of his shipmates. The eyes of the poor wretch were white, rolled back in his head with terror, and he screamed and yowled piteously.
Hearing the knock, the great detective hurled the petrified man into His gaping maw and swallowed with every sign of satisfaction before Mrs Hudson showed the woman into Holmes’ drawing room. She was young and pretty, dressed in a sensible velvet dress and coat the colour of red wine, but was pale and trembling slightly, and had been before she even laid eyes on the great detective.
“Oh, Mr Holmes,” she said, averting her gaze from His monstrosity. “I could think of no one else who could help me. My name is Elizabeth Dawkins. Something terrible has happened to my brother William. Not two days ago, he disappeared while visiting an old friend in Putney, and now I fear someone is trying to kill me!”
YOUR DEATH MEANS NOTHING TO A BEING OF UNIMAGINABLE HORROR THAT WILL CONSUME ALL MANKIND ON THE DAY THIS WORLD SINKS INTO ETERNAL NIGHT BENEATH THE SCREAMING BLACK WINGS OF THE BYAKHEES, Holmes’ thoughts tore through the minds of those present.
“But Mr Holmes,” the woman said when she regained consciousness, “I must know what happened to my brother and why those responsible seek me too. This mysterious note arrived this morning. Surely you can deduce something from it?”
Holmes curled His tentacles in distaste. I KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU. I READ YOUR PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE LIKE AN OPEN BOOK. NO PART OF YOUR BODY OR SOUL IS HIDDEN FROM THE ALL-SEEING EYES OF GREAT CTHULHU.
The great detective collected His deerstalker and ate a Meerscham for good measure. Miss Dawkins raised her gaze in hope and was instantly stricken blind in one eye at the sheer horror of the squamous form that stood in front of her. “Then, you will help me?” she said.
Cthulhu Holmes nodded slowly. YOU SHALL ACCOMPANY ME TO PUTNEY. He turned to His right. YOU TOO, WATSON. DO YOU HAVE YOUR TRUSTY SERVICE REVOLVER?
The doctor gibbered with excitement and produced a pistol from one detritus-filled pocket. It did not appear to be loaded, but Watson seemed unconcerned by this trivial detail. He waved it feverishly in the air, crying, “Ia! Ia!” in a piercing falsetto before happily defecating in his trousers.
Holmes led them through the winding cobbled streets of Putney before coming to a halt before a derelict cloth warehouse whose painted logo had long peeled into obscurity. He shouldered His bulk through the stonework, bricks bouncing harmlessly from His rubbery hide, His two companions in close attendance.
Tied to a chair against the wall was a respectable-looking young man, no doubt William Dawkins. Five men sat, twisting in surprise and shock at the sudden intrusion, by a table to one side. Two instantly turned white and collapsed, clutching at their hearts, two more were swept up by Cthulhu’s mighty claws and devoured, and the last was set upon by the giggling Watson, who cracked open his skull with the butt of his pistol and began to feast on the dripping brain matter inside.
Miss Dawkins ran to her brother’s side and began to loosen his bonds. “Oh, Elizabeth,” he gasped. “They were trying to get me to tell them where the Unholy Tome of V’Hnii was hidden! Thank goodness I gave it to you for safe keeping! But however did you find me?”
“It was all Mr Holmes,” she said, turning to look back at her brother’s saviour as He picked a tattered shoe from between His teeth. The single glance was enough to send her blind in her remaining eye and she began to shake uncontrollably.
“How can I ever thank you, Mr Holmes?” William asked, doing his best to ignore the slurping sounds coming from the doctor’s direction.
YOUR EVER-LASTING SOUL SHALL SERVE AT THE ETERNAL COURT OF AZATHOTH THE MAD GOD AT THE HEART OF THE UNIVERSE, the great detective replied, reaching out one claw and plucking William’s head from his shoulders. AND YOUR SISTER’S SOUL SHALL DANCE AND SHRIEK TO THE INSANITY OF THE MAD GOD’S SONG.
With that, He leaned down and tore the unfortunate woman in two with His tentacles.
“I say! Good work, Holmes! Heeheeheehee!” Dr Watson said, before returning to his feast of brains.