It was one warm summer afternoon at Baker Street when I was called upon by my friend Dr. Watson. A heat wave had struck England; it was quite an odd event for the residents, especially those who had lived almost all their lives here. Normally the climate here consisted of heavy falling snow and bitterly cold winds. No one could understand the odd turn this weather had taken, but personally I took it as a sign that something odd was afoot in our town. As if a higher power was trying to warn us of something. The heat of the afternoon hung with the weariness of a long humid day, as if the air had been worn down by the day’s intense heat. Hot wind blew and the trees flopped away as if exhausted. The bird’s slow chorus added to the tired mood of the atmosphere. I was in the middle of studying an array of newspaper articles for a case I was working on when Dr. Watson entered. He had a letter from Inspector Lestrade, informing me of a murder that had taken place down at the Thames docks at around two-thirty that morning. They were having difficulty solving the case and needed the help from someone with my expertise. I took the letter from him and examined it for myself as Dr. Watson left me to my thoughts. At first read it seemed a typical murder case, but after analyzing the letter further I realized all was not what it seemed. The letter described the scene of the crime ‘as if the victim was mutilated by some beast’, yet they are quite sure this was the work of one of our fellow human beings. I went to my trusty companion Dr Watson to inform him of the situation. Dr. Watson has been by my side for years he is a person that understands and does not question my way of thinking or handling of a case, a person I can speak to in confidence that he will understand, a man I can always depend on. Dr. Watson himself is a quiet man, a man of few words as some might say, though this works quite well for me. A loud companion would not be as useful. He seems to never question the actions or thoughts I take, and though asks for reasons, does not become disappointed if he receives none. I believe over the years he has grown accustomed to my ways, and is now always ready for the unexpected, as am I, such as the time I was telling him of a recent case that had come to my attention and as we walked I asked him to hop aboard my horse and carriage. I did not tell him where we were going or why, not until we were on our way that was, yet he still came with me voluntarily without any questions or hesitation. I need someone like this with me, questioning my actions just takes time, time that I do not like to waste.
I entered the small, yet cozy living room to find Watson studying the morning paper. The room was full of newspaper articles and clippings, evidence from past cases and some for leisure time. The room was littered with various interesting miscellaneous items and scraps of leftovers, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks relating to past cases, encyclopedias and dictionaries, all strewn about the floor. There were gold snuff cases, a shoe filled with tobacco, a pipe rack and a chemical apparatus of mine that I had set up for my leisure time, I was quite a curious man in relation to the way things worked. There were strange coloured rocks, a decrepit looking hourglass and an oddly shaped piece of metal that I had not yet found any use for. The clutter made the room seem even smaller and cramped, but it was how myself and Dr. Watson were use to living, scenes like this made us feel at home. I took the newspaper from his hands and replaced it with the letter. With no outward sign of shock or surprise to the abrupt interruption, he immediately began to read the letter. His eyes moved quickly along the page and before a minute was up he put down the letter.
“Well Holmes, what do you think?”
“I think it’s an intriguing case. Describing it as if “mutilated by some beast” yet being certain it was committed by a human being, quite the query. I believe we will need to go into the field for this one Watson”. After grabbing a stash of opium, my pipe and nothing else, Watson and I proceeded to Inspector Lestrande’s office.
Inspector G. Lestrade was a short stumpy man with plenty of energy to spare, but lacked in imagination and very conventional, bad traits if you ask me. A man renowned for being one of the best detectives at Scotland Yard, despite the fact that a lot of this has come from taking credit for my accomplishments, but this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I believe, though this man has no real crime solving skills of the sort. It is his determination that has brought him to these top ranks. I would not say that I loath the man, but I do dislike him.
Entering Scotland Yard I was greeted respectfully by various officers and acquaintances, “Afternoon Mr. Holmes”, “How do you do Mr. Holmes”? With a nod of my head to everyone who passed by I headed to Lestrade’s office. Reaching the fine oak door that exclaimed ‘INSPECTOR LESTRADE’, and ignoring common social conventions, as I was accustomed to, I opened the door and walked in.
“Ah, ‘course, Sherlock Holmes, should have known straight away it was you, who else doesn’t bother knock” noted Lestrade as I entered the room.
“Inspector,” I said as I took a seat adjacent his desk,
“I received your letter about the murder. Are you suggesting it appeared to be the work of some beast, yet done by a human? I find this thought intriguing and wish to see the crime scene as soon as possible”. Plain and direct orders I found had always been the easiest way to communicate; I wasn’t one for chit-chat. Lestrade looked at me for a moment, not surprised by my abrupt nature, but still a little taken back.
“Well of course, I can have myself or a few officers accompany you to the crime site if you wish” replied Lestrade.
“I’d much rather Watson and I attended the scene ourselves”.
“You know that can not be done; an officer must accompany you to the scene. It is merely precaution to make sure you do not tamper with the crime scene.”
“Honestly, do you believe me capable of such an act as stealing from a crime scene”? Lestrade looked at me, as if unsure to say what he was thinking.
“All the same, an officer must be present with you.” Giving up trying to get my way I groaned, “Ahh, if they must”. I raised myself from the chair and began to leave. As I began to close the door I turned to Lestrade and dismissed him, “Lestrade” I said with a nod.
The next day myself, Watson and two police officers from Scotland Yard, arrived at the crime scene, the Thames docks. This side of London was quite the opposite of the other, full of slums, poverty and filth. It was probably not a shock to anyone that such a murder could occur here. Of course the body was long gone from the scene, but that could be attended to at another time, if even necessary. Entering the scene, to the normal eye, it looked just like a laneway that you would except to find near the slums of London. Dirty, rubbish littering every corner, the brick chipped, missing and covered in God knows what. If there was a struggle you could never tell as rubbish was already naturally strewn all over the place.
I walked right to the end of the laneway to inspect it, Watson following. Traces of blood were evident on the ground; garbage cans knocked over with rubbish everywhere, possibly the sign of a struggle, or just regular activity for this area. Looking at the wall I noticed a brick seemed to place loosely within the wall. Pulling at it, it was easily removed. Looking at the end of the brick that had been within the wall, I discovered noticeable traces of blood; a smart but risky way of hiding the murder weapon, while it was tricky to uncover, it was not impossible. The murderer would have been better off taking the brick with them.
“Did Inspector Lestrade decipher how the victim was killed?” I yelled out to the officers standing down the end of the laneway. After a brief period of looking at each other in thought,
“Ahhh, I don’t believe he did Mr. Holmes” replied one of them. I smiled and thought to myself, “No of course not.”
“People say I’m quite the expert in finding clues others can not, but I personally do not think this is beyond anyone’s ability to find” I said to Watson.
“Well, Lestrade is a man who tends only to look right in front of him for answers, and if it is not there he seems incapable of finding it” replied Watson.
I nodded and continued to investigate the rest of the scene. Looking at the dried blood, it was easy to locate where the victim had been lying when hit, near the largest dried pool. Kneeling down near the pool, envisioning the body lying there, I noticed a single strip of material, soaked in blood, some of it already dry. Carefully picking it up, I examined it. With it being exactly where the body would have been I had to conclude that it was the victims, and due to the nature of the evidence, the victim must have been a young girl. This if course was obvious to the human eye, but this single strip of material held a lot more information then noticed on first glance. The material itself was delicate silk, material only worn by those in the upper classes of 19th century England. This strip had probably been ripped off the young ladies dress in her struggle to escape the murderer. The pattern on the material, roses twined together, indicated that this would have belonged to a younger lady, a girl in fact. Older women tended to have plan strips of material draped around their dresses, while the patterns and designs were reserved for the younger girls. Yelling out, once again the patient officers,
“The victim, was it a young girl, of maybe 16 or thereabouts?” The officers looked up the laneway to me, astonished,
“Yes I believe so Mr. Holmes” replied one.
“If they knew how you knew that, I don’t think they’d be so intrigued” said Watson cheekily. I smiled, but then frowned as I continued to look at the small strip of silk.
“It is so horrible that someone could target such a young and innocent being, and in such a way” I remarked.
“Some people’s minds work very differently to our own” said Watson. I put the hairclip in my pocket.
“I’ve seen all I need to see. Thank you for your time” I yelled down to the officers.
Back at our apartment on Baker Street, there came a knock at the door. Dr. Watson answered it to reveal my good old friend Dr. Jekyll. Dr. Jekyll was an elderly man whose figure was as if it had been worn down over the years. He always looked tired yet always had enough energy to make it through the day and keep a happy face to the world. His body, small and twisted looked so fragile that if a single strong gust of wind struck him, his bones would crumble. Yet, he was a lovely fellow who always had others best interests at heart, but it seemed to me he was hiding something, though I wasn’t one to pry into people’s lives if they didn’t want me there. The way he held back this secret, it was as if he was ashamed and wanted people to know as to get it off his chest, but also that doing such a thing would be detrimental to him and his reputation with those around him. Dr. Watson let Dr. Jekyll in after a brief ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’. I motioned him over to a low brown lounge chair that had become flat and sagged with age. Dr. Jekyll’s aged and wrinkled face smiled over at me.
“How are you my old friend?” I asked of him.
“I’m feeling well Holmes, a bit more tired everyday as age starts to catch up with me, but I’m still here, surviving each day” he replied with a sincere smile. We sat in silence for a moment in which I noticed a look on Dr. Jekyll’s face, as he looked toward the ground. His face told me something was bothering him, bothering him quite a lot in fact. I’d never seen worry such as this cross his face before.
“Is something wrong? What gives me the honour of your presence this evening?” I asked him. He looked up at me. For a moment he looked at me, like a little child scared of what could be hiding in his closet, as if to alert me that something really was bothering him, but then he threw that look away and plastered an insincere smile on his face, as if warning me to keep it all a secret.
“What? I’m fine, never felt better, I just came along to have some company, even if it is only for a little while. Of late I’ve been feeling quite lonely in my lab all by my lonesome” he replied, “so…. had any new and interesting cases of late?”
“Well, I had an old lady who was struck ill, tell me about a mysterious lodger she had who’s face she said was hideously mutilated, quite like the description of this case, and was sure he had committed some kind of murder or other foul act. Then there was the man whose wife had disappeared, but most recently, just yesterday in fact a murder was brought to my attention.”
“Murders aren’t your usual calling”, Dr. Jekyll pointed out.
“Yes, this is true, but the letter I received about the murder described it as ‘as if the victim was mutilated by some beast’. I think the odd nature of the case has dumbfounded the police at Scotland Yard and Inspector Lestrade, and when they have no clue what to do next they usually come knocking on my door” I explained. Dr. Jekyll looked a little taken aback by the description.
“As if mutilated by some beast? That sounds completely awful!” he exclaimed.
“Indeed it does, but I was fortunate when I went to the crime scene that the body had already been removed. Though in some instances the presence of the body would have been beneficial in providing me more clues for my investigation.” Dr. Jekyll nodded in agreement. I noticed as he looked around his gaze became locked on the strip of lace that I had found at the crime scene, that was positioned on the armrest of my chair. The look was one of familiarity with the object.
“I found this strip of silk at the crime scene when I went to investigate. It clearly points out that the victim was a young girl, which is a terrible shame. Does it look familiar to you Doctor?” I asked. The Doctor continued to stare at the hairclip for a few moments when he shook his head.
“No”, he replied while still staring intently at it. I wasn’t convinced.
“Are you sure Doctor?” I asked, keen to hear the truth.
“Well….” He hesitated, “for some reason it does seem familiar to me, extremely familiar. I’m racking my brain over and over again to try and place it but I’m coming up nothing. Nothing except that I’ve seen it before” he stated, now, that I believed.
“Interesting. Well be sure to contact me if you do remember won’t you” I told him. He nodded his head.
“Well. I think I should be going now. Dr. Jekyll said hurridedly as he got up from the sofa. I stood up with him and shook his hand.
“But, I thought you wanted some company?”
“I most certainly do but I just remembered some chores that need attending to.”
“Well it’s always a pleasure to see you Jekyll”. He nodded. Dr. Watson opened the door for him. They said their goodbyes and Dr. Jekyll left. Once Dr. Watson had closed the door I sat back down. I picked up the strip of silk in my fingers and examined it, looking, as if I would find the reason for Jekyll’s familiarity with it the more I looked at it.
“Odd that. There’s something going on there that I don’t know about, and it would seem neither does Dr. Jekyll” I said to no one, but Dr. Watson replied as if it was directed at him.
“Yes I did catch that. It was quite odd”.
The next morning Watson and I headed down to Scotland Yard again to see Inspector Lestrade, this time to inquire into viewing the young girl’s body. I wished to see if the letters description was correct. As we entered the police station, the officers all seemed to be very distracted and concerned by something, not even one saw me and said hello. Reaching Lestrade’s office, Watson and I walked straight in. The Inspector was on the telephone and seemed to have a concerned look about his face as he listened to the voice on the other end. Something was definitely happening to have cause for concern. The Inspector looked at Watson and I and motioned for us to take a seat.
“Yes… yes…. I’ll see to it straight away then, thank you” said Lestrade as he ended the conversation and placed the phone back on its stand.
“Good morning Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson” Lestrade greeted us. “I’m sorry about that but it seems there has been yet another murder, one very similar to one you are investigating presently” Lestrade explained. “The victim, once again, looks as if they have been attacked by an animal of some kind, and it’s another young girl. Our officers have checked and the girls had no relationship of any kind between them, so we can not find any connection between the murders, therefore we have come to the conclusion that this is either a man on a random murder streak, or it truly is some animal attacking these ladies, in which case it needs to be found”. I stood up and Dr. Watson followed my action.
“I will go the scene immediately.” I declared, and after gathering information from officers outside Lestrade’s office, Dr. Watson and I headed for the crime scene.
After reaching the crime scene, Watson and myself immediately walked in. The crime scene was yet another laneway in the poverty stricken side of London. Once again, rubbish strewn everywhere, the entire place dirty and grimy. The girl’s body was still there, and it looked as if the officers had not done much investigating as of yet. This meant that not much of the crime scene had been touched; this evoked some hint of joy inside me. This meant that concluding this case should be a lot easier.
“Detective Holmes, Dr. Watson, how are you this morning?” an officer asked as we walked by.
“Doing well” I replied and continued to walk on. We reached the body of the recently deceased girl. The body was located closer to the street to which the laneway joined compared to last murder, where the body was found around about the middle. Her brown hair was strewn across her face in a bloody mess, her face hidden from view. Her arms, and from what I could tell, her face, was full of scratches and bites. I knelt down and brushed some of the hair from her face. Dr. Watson had to turn away from the sight. Her face was much disfigured. She was also only a young girl, most probably around the age of sixteen. Along with scratches, her face was torn away in some parts; her face would have unrecognizable by even the ones who knew her best. I know understood the description “mutilated by some beast”. All the scratches, at first glance, did indeed look like they had been done by an animals, but when I looked closer I noticed that the scratches were not perfectly straight and clean cut, as you would except if it had been done by an animals claws. These scratches were very jagged and rough, as if done by a human’s nails. In fact, I was almost certain I could see tiny traces of human nail left in some of the scratches. I brushed the hair back over her face and Watson was able to look at the body again.
“This is truly horrific.” exclaimed Dr. Watson. I continued to examine the body. The girls dress had been ripped and scratched, such like would occur if an animal had attacked her, this girl’s dress was also made of quality material, lace this time instead of silk, clearly she was not from around these parts of London. I tried to make the connection between why a brick would have been used in the last case and scratches were predominating in this one. There was no sign this young girl had been attacked with a brick, and I had the feeling I wouldn’t find any traces of that on the other victims body either. After staring at the body for a few moments it occurred to me, the brick must have been used by the victim in order to try and protect herself. Then why would the murderer place it back in the wall, why make it look like the brick was the weapon used? This case was turning out to be quite odd, not that that was unusual for cases I was involved in. I knew I would have to see the other victim’s body. Standing up I looked about the laneway and the other features nearby. I felt that the fact that this body was found closer to the street was a sign of something. That the murderer was becoming more careless, that this person had no real motives except that they were mad in the mind. There were a few houses nearby. They were very run down and isores to say the least, but I found it interesting that no one from these residences had come forward with something to say. I walked out of the laneway and headed to the house straight across from it, Watson followed. This house was extremely small and looked like it could fall down at any minute. I knocked on the door and as I waited I could hear the small pit-pat of footsteps nearing the door. When it was opened the first thing that hit me was the horrible smell that emitted from inside the house. I looked down and saw a little girl standing there looking up at me in wonder. She would have had to be only ten years of age. She had no shoes, she looked like she hadn’t had a good bath in a few weeks, her hair was extremely ratty and she looked extremely underfeed. There was nothing of her except skin and bones.
“Hello, my name is Sherlock Holmes, is your mother home?” I asked of the young girl. I could see Watson looking over my shoulder, out of the corner of my eye, trying to get a closer look at the inside of the residence.
“She’s out at the moment” the girl replied, looking inquisitively at Watson and myself.
“Do you know when she might be home?”
“Probably not until late tonight.”
“Are you home alone then?”
“No, my brother and sister are here. But I’m the oldest; I’m looking after them while mother gets us some dinners”.
“I see. Did you hear anything odd last night? Anyone scream, perhaps from that laneway over there?” The girl looked around me to the crime scene across the way.
“No’s, did something bad happen?”
“Somebody has just gotten hurt, did you see anything then?” Watson leaned over to my ear.
“Is it really worth asking this young girl? She wouldn’t understand what has happened here and we certainly can’t explain anything to her. I think we should try another residence” he said. I continued to look at the girl as I replied to Watson.
“Young children notice a lot more than adults do, and can usually remember what they see a lot better, can give a lot better description”.
“Well I heard this odd scurrying noise outside, and I thoughts it was a rat maybe, and mother told me if I saw a rat outside our house I should get the broom on them, let them know their not wanted here. So I looked outside the window to see if it was a rat, because mother also told me always check out the window before you go outside. When I looked out the window I didn’t see any rat but I saw an odd man. He was all hunched over, even when he stood up. He was scurrying in circles about where all those people are over there. I watched him and he did that for a little while and then he left. When he turned around his face didn’t look right and I saw a black shadow of something where he had been. I figured it was a pile of rubbish and he was one of the scavengers we have about”. This interested me a lot, and I was certain this was the killer.
“What do you mean by his face didn’t look right?”
“It wasn’t like ours. It looked all sloppy and scarred and scratched.”
“It was disfigured?”
“Yeah, that’s it”.
“Well, thank you very much for telling me that, now you go back inside and look after your brother and sister.”
“Bye Mr.” said the girl and she closed the door. The smell that had been emitting from the house was now cut off.
“That smell was awfully dreadful, how could anyone live like that?” commented Dr. Watson.
“People around here don’t have a choice how they live Watson, they just do” I replied, looking about the place. “The girls that have been murdered though do have a choice, they definitely don’t live like this, which asks the question, why would two wealthy girls of such a young age be roaming the streets of London’s slums at such a time of night?”.