Desert Island Dicks

by Paul Chiswick

Sherlock Holmes sprawls on the hot sand, a frothy red sea sucking his naked toes. How did I let this happen? he asks himself, recalling how Moriarty’s henchmen had waylaid Watson and him and, laughing heartily, abandoned them on desert island asteroid K-09A, area 2.51 square miles. In other words, a pimple on the mush of obscurity.

Nothing here to test his sleuthing powers beyond recovering the odd missing pulse rifle. Then – joy of joy – someone acquainted Leader Lepidopstra’s senior wife’s bowels with a boathook.

Three hundred Kargs to choose from, one unparalled intellect to figure it out. Simple.

Except . . .

‘I know who murdered Dinhabah Nehushta, Watson.’

Doctor Watson rolls on his side, skin glistening like a lobster in a solar tub. ‘Carshena Loruhama, Holmes?’

‘Impossible. It has to be a male.’

‘Aristobulus Tanhumeth?’

Holmes rolls his eyes. Watson could be trying at the best of times, but the Nicronesian suns seem to have fried his brain. ‘I will save you the pain of elimination, Watson. It was the Leader.’

‘Dear God, Holmes. How on earth have you arrived at that conclusion?’

‘Elementary. The Leader had opportunity and motive.’

‘What motive?’

‘Adultery, I believe.’

‘But you cannot—’

‘Restrain your tongue, my dear fellow.’ Holmes tilts his chin as a figure sporting a skinclinger stretched tight over a belly big as a boulder waddles towards them.

‘Greetings, Leader,’ they chorus, rising to their feet and brushing the sand off their legs.

‘Why are you not searching for the murderer?’

‘I have a good idea of who committed the dastardly crime,’ says Holmes.

‘Who?’

‘The perpetrator is male, fond of his food, wears his braids long.’

The Leader grunts. ‘Look, she died two solstices ago. I can’t keep her here much longer. The tribe is beginning to complain.’ He draws a clawnail across his throat, leaving a thin white line from ear to ear. ‘I want this resolved by sunsdown.’

‘I will not delay longer than necessary.’

Watson mops his brow. ‘Good Lord, Holmes, what are we going to do?’

‘We have three choices, Watson. One, I accuse the Leader in public. If I do that I doubt we will live to see another sunsup. Two, we find a scapegoat and we remain here until rescued and risk the revenge of the wronged Karg’s family.’

‘And the third, Holmes?’

‘I’m afraid there is no third, Watson.’

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