Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The Casebook of Sheraton Howell: Part XIV The First Case VII

The woman hesitated briefly then hissed loudly, her attractive features changing instantly. Hers was the face of a demon, her contorted snarl exposed fangs like a wild beast, her face twisted in savagery. Howell fired a shot into the air but she barely seemed to notice. Now Sheraton Howell is a gentleman but he is also, thankfully, highly pragmatic. As she approached he fired once more into the ground at her feet, then seeing no hesitancy in her approach, he fired a single shot into her leg. Alas, this but slowed her down and seemed to simply anger her more. The beast swiped at Howell, knocking the gun from his hand and sending him staggering backwards.

It was then that I found myself running across the garden, sword cane drawn, almost unaware of my own actions. The devil woman was clawing at Howell’s injured arm and I swear it was if she was some predator about to make a meal. I sliced at the woman’s legs, just below the knees, and she screamed as if she was indeed a beast. She turned to face me as Howell grasped for his gun. Picking it up he fired directly into her back several times and I saw at least one of the bullets exit her chest. We could scarcely believe that she still stood, yet stand she did, her screams awful to recall. The ruckus had by now awakened the household and several police whistles could be heard nearby. The woman turned and fled, still able to clear the garden wall, but not without some struggle from the wounds inflicted. Howell, though injured, shouted ‘after her’. The door to the house opened and I shouted to the figure in the doorway, pointing to the fallen figure of the young girl lying on the grass. She had not been touched in the brawl and I suspected she had simply fainted.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Setting the mood

In Limehouse.

Just a bit of fun with the fledglings and lady adventurers.

More to follow in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The Casebook of Sheraton Howell: Part XIII The First Case VI

My senses were partly restored as the summerhouse door crashed open and Howell bounded outside. The woman hissed like a wild animal, stopping only momentarily before continuing her advance. Howell set himself between the girl and the woman. ‘What business have you here miss?’ he rather calmly stated.

‘La fille m’appartient’

I was taken aback by the woman’s words, not so much by their meaning, for I understood the content, but more by her tone. Her voice belied her appearance, it was rather chilling yet alluring in its way.
‘Not tonight mademoiselle!’ was Howell’s response.

The woman walked forwards, taking little heed of Howell’s words. As she approached, he put himself firmly in front of the girl, who still appeared to be unaware of any of this. The woman stopped a few yards from Howell and once more beckoned the child forward, her long fingers running into long fingernails. It was then that I realised I had not moved from the door of the summerhouse, almost bewitched by the strange woman. She stepped forward and Howell raised his arm; with a speed I would not have believed, the woman pushed Howell aside with such force that he fell a good five or six feet from where he had stood. He rolled over the damp grass and drew his favoured Enfield revolver.

‘I do strongly suggest you stop there mademoiselle. My apologies for the use of the weapon’.

The woman turned towards Howell as he rose from the ground, revolver still trained on her. She covered the distance seemingly in one sweeping movement and although Howell had time to shoot, he did not. The woman clawed at him like an alley cat; Howell stepped backwards, but not quickly enough as she caught his arm, tearing through his coat. I could see by his face she had connected with more than just material and as he raised his other arm to protect it, I could see dark patches appearing as the blood seeped from the wound.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The Casebook of Sheraton Howell: Part XII The First Case V

For three evenings we sat in a cold, draughty summerhouse, watching whilst absolutely nothing happened. The clear, moonlight nights we were experiencing (somewhat rare given the normal cloud and smog) made the nights even colder than normal. We almost determined against a fourth night, but found ourselves huddled in blankets once more, straining out eyes across the manicured lawn and well-kept borders even as we fought sleep. My eyes heavy, I was jostled awake by Howell who was pointing towards something moving across the lawn by the house. I looked to Howell and silently mouthed the words ‘the daughter’. Howell nodded. Attired in naught but a nightdress, the young girl flitted across the grass, eyes wide open yet her body moving as if asleep. Perhaps this was the somnambulism I had read about? I moved to stand up, intent on approaching the girl to cover her modesty (and there was a frightful chill in the air), but Howell grasped my arm, nodding to the rear of the garden.

In the moonlight stood a woman. She was barefooted, dressed in a tattered dress with long, unkempt hair. I had neither heard not seen her entering the garden. Something appalled me about the woman and I felt a chill deeper than could be accounted for by the night alone. As she walked towards the young girl she gestured, beckoning her forward with her long fingers. There was at once a sense of beauty and of horror, for the woman exuded a sense of savagery I had rarely encountered in my time with Howell, and never in a woman. I was transfixed.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The Casebook of Sheraton Howell: Part XI The First Case IV

The incident was most definitely worth investigating and at four o’ clock in the morning, Howell and I found ourselves clambering over the same low rooftops that the woman had reportedly been on. A number of timber shingles appeared to have been recently disturbed and a small piece of cloth was still attached to a tile nail. We later determined this to be a blue taffeta, a not inexpensive fabric, which was at odds with the ragged description the constables reported. We were, however, once more at a loss and no further forward in locating the missing girl or finding the mystery spring heeled woman, who seemed to be heavily involved. What did we know of this woman? We knew that she had considerable athletic ability, may be French or at least a native French speaker and possibly wore a once expensive, yet now tattered, dress. This was hardly evidence likely to lead to an imminent arrest, but it was a start.

The Gilliat daughter had been very distraught at the disappearance of her cousin and the death of her dog had been a further blow to her condition. Mrs Gilliat’s nerves were frayed by the events and they required some reassurance from ourselves and the police. The Gilliats had been questioned about the woman in blue but they knew nothing of her. Howell and I agreed that we would spend a few evenings in surveillance of the property, hidden away in their summerhouse, which afforded good view across the length of their substantial garden, taking in both the rear doors and the gate into the street beyond. The police could not apparently afford the manpower to join the venture, but as we feared their presence may have restricted any potential activity, this did not trouble us. We did decide to arm ourselves for the occasion, however.