The Alien Abduction
Every crime mystery case undertaken by detective Sherlock Holmes was solved. His cases involved the Royal families of Great Britain and other countries, rare objects of irreplaceable value, great wealth, important matters of state, and mysterious deaths.
Holmes’s crime mysteries were initially quite baffling to all concerned, including Inspector Lestrade and the other police of Scotland Yard. Yet due to the investigations of Sherlock Holmes, every case was solved to the authorities’ complete satisfaction, and was considered successfully closed. Sherlock Holmes is rightfully considered to be the world’s most successful, and most famous detective.
Dr. John H. Watson, Holmes’s life long friend and chronicler, wrote up and published his cases, but not all of Holmes’s cases were published. It is a little known fact that a small number of cases, not meeting with his personal satisfaction, were never published. Dr. Watson wrote up these cases as usual, but instead of being published, they were consigned to the temporary oblivion of a locked safe box, deep in the vault of Great Britain’s most respected banking institution.
Holmes gave instructions that after his death, these unpublished cases were to be made public, “a full century later, when much that cannot be explained now will be clear as crystal.” The century has elapsed, and more. Somehow the cases became lost, and were largely forgotten. I had heard about the mysterious “lost cases of Sherlock Holmes” but thought them more myth than reality. Then one day I bought an old steamer trunk at auction, and inside found treasure. There they were, the unpublished lost cases of Sherlock Holmes, with writing still black and hardly faded, though on paper yellowed and brittle with age.
I immediately resolved that these cases of Sherlock Holmes would not remain unknown, and then possibly be lost again, perhaps forever. To this end I have undertaken the task of publishing them.
Here and now, for the first time anywhere, you can read the previously unknown lost Sherlock Holmes crime mystery, Sherlock Holmes And The Alien Abduction. It is the first of these crime mysteries to be published.
This case displays Holmes’s astonishing abilities of logical deduction and detection to the fullest degree. The mysterious death of a healthy, newly jailed man alone in his cell is fully explained, a beautiful, eminent young lady and her wealthy Society are saved from terrible scandal, the authorities are well satisfied, and the case is closed.
Yet there still remains a loose end, a loose end to the case that cannot be put to rest. This loose end has associated with it a disturbing possibility, so that with the loose end still lying about, and without absolute proof regarding the possibility, Holmes refused to make the case public.
It was of no consequence that the loose end was detected only through the genius of Sherlock Holmes. No, genius cannot have even a single loose end lying about; it cannot tolerate anything less than perfection, and when absolute proof is lacking, it prefers to say nothing.
The loose end, and the disturbing possibility associated with it, are described at the case’s end. When you learn what they are, you will know why Sherlock Holmes thought it best not to make the case public, until a century after his death.
Holmes’s astonishing abilities were never employed with greater result, and yet with less final satisfaction to him, than in the case of Sherlock Holmes And The Alien Abduction.
Sherlock Holmes And The Alien Abduction
“What do you make of this, Watson?” said Sherlock Holmes, tossing into my lap the note he had just finished eagerly reading. Delivered by Post a few minutes earlier, Holmes’s faithful housekeeper Mrs. Hudson had brought it up at once. The envelope was welcome relief to a dull, rainy spring morning in Holmes’s digs. I had been trying unsuccessfully to amuse myself with Euclid’s Elements, while Holmes, without a case to occupy his ever-active mind, clearly showed the signs of that increasing nervousness which came over him when unoccupied.
While seated at his desk I had observed him tapping ever more frequently on it, always with the same one, long finger. When standing he paced back and forth, in his mind’s eye endlessly reviewed first one case, and then another, but evidently obtaining no satisfaction from his memories. Holmes was working himself up to, as I knew all too well, a terrible blue funk.
There was only one way to relieve the blue funk’s severe depression, and that was by the 7% solution, an injection of 7% cocaine hydrochloride in water. While Holmes’s ever-active mind was occupied with a case there was no problem, but genius has its consequences, and without a case to occupy it, Holmes’s ever-active mind had nothing to work on, with the result of ever-increasing nervous strain.
Holmes detested his occasional dependence on cocaine, and had sworn never to employ it again. In view of Holmes’s increasing nervousness, along with his refusal of its solution, I feared for the worst. Then the doorbell rang, and with it came deliverance, in the form of an envelope.
Holmes had pounced on the envelope like a lover receiving word from his inamorata. Tearing it open he hastily removed and greedily read the note that was its content, at once becoming deeply reflective. Then a look of satisfaction spread over his face. This is the note:
Detective Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson are invited to attend The Theosophical Society in London’s April 2nd meeting. The subject is Comets And Their Deeper Significance. Time 8:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. Refreshments will be served.
“Humph!” I said, “obviously an invitation to a meeting. The subject is of no possible interest to me. Comets indeed! Probably want you to make a contribution…”
“Yes, Watson,” Sherlock replied, “as usual you are correct, a contribution is desired. But not the kind you mean. Note the date.”
“Why,” I said with surprise, “it’s dated for today.”
“Yes,” Holmes said, “so it is. But a society of their reputation and prestige is not likely to send an invitation with R.S.V.P. the same day as the meeting. Rather bad form. And look at the writing.”
I saw nothing special, and said so.
“Watson, my good man,” said Holmes, “do you not notice the incomplete curlicues, and the misplaced dots? In combination with the abnormally broad strokes evident here and there, the author was in a hurry. And also agitated.”
“Indeed, Holmes,” I said, “and how can you tell that the person penning the note was agitated, and not just in a hurry?”
“Not one person in a thousand,” replied Holmes, “can keep from pressing too hard with the pen when agitated. With anger the strokes are markedly broadened, when agitated only some are broadened, as we see here, while in melancholia the pen is gripped and also pressed very lightly, so the strokes are narrow and light, with numerous interruptions where pen leaves paper.”
Even I, with my knowledge of Holmes’s methods, was surprised by the information he had gleaned from this brief note. But he was not yet done with it; there was more to come.
“The ink,” said Holmes. “Note its unusual color.”
The note was penned in purple ink, not so uncommon from a lady of high rank, and I said so.
“Watson, do you not know it is most irregular for any learned society, even one studying comets, to send an invitation in purple ink? Black, my dear fellow, black is the preferred color. Black, preferably from the ink sac of the octopus. It makes indelible, deep black ink that never fades; black, for emphasis, for severity, for permanence. This note was penned, not in the official Society ink, but in the personal ink of a lady who, though not born to the purple, is nevertheless of high rank, and entitled to employ it. Note the signature.”
“But Holmes,” I protested, “there is no signature”
“Yes there is,” said Holmes. “The initialed signature is L.H. No doubt the signature of Miss Louisa Hotchkiss, secretary of the Theosophical Society. She is the only child and daughter of Sir Alfred Hotchkiss. Though not a Peer of the Realm, Sir Alfred is nevertheless a person who has been knighted. He is a man of considerable social prominence, and of great wealth. He donates generously to his daughter’s Society.”
“Watson, you have probably missed the note’s scent, because it is so faint, faint but unmistakable, the scent of Tea Roses. What we have here is a personal invitation, penned hurriedly by an agitated lady of high station. Obviously she feels it is most important that we attend the Society’s meeting, this very evening, and in an official capacity.”
“Official capacity? How do you know it’s not just a friendly note?”
“Because, my dear fellow, it is addressed to Detective, not Mr. Sherlock Holmes. There is something afoot, Watson, something important is amiss, and it has nothing to do with comets. Watson, we have a case!”
Holmes immediately penned a reply accepting the invitation. I couldn’t help noticing it was written in dark black ink, ink that no doubt would not fade. I could almost see little octopus tentacles emerging from the ink bottle. As to the pen strokes, I did not examine them, but I am sure they were quite normal. Holmes was the one of the less than one in a thousand, whose penmanship was unaffected by his emotional state, now one of obvious agitation. He is truly a remarkable man, as I have seen evidenced many times before, and was about to see again.
The coach and four we arranged for arrived on schedule, and a little before 8:00 P.M. we arrived, and alighted at the Theosophical Society’s doorstep. Holmes had told me that nothing bearing on the case would be discussed until after the meeting.
“Because” Holmes said, “despite her concern, no less can be expected from a lady of good breeding.” And as usual he was right.
We entered a beautifully paneled, spacious and well lit room, with two big doors at the far end, and I immediately noticed a strikingly beautiful young woman, who was personally greeting new arrivals. She was tall and slender, with very fair skin and a mass of natural red hair intricately arranged upon her head. A high brow, well set alert green eyes, a nicely shaped mouth and firm chin completed the picture of an intelligent, well-bred young lady.
Her dress was fashionably but conservatively cut, and Greengage in color, the exact light green of a Greengage plum. It was set off by a magnificent necklace of dark green cut emeralds, set in heavy red gold, while her finger, though not graced by an engagement or wedding ring, bore a single very large emerald in a matching heavy red gold setting.
That, I said to myself, must be Miss Louisa Hotchkiss. Imagine my surprise when I heard Holmes say, “right you are, Watson, right you are.” I must have spoken aloud.
The short greeting line, for that is what we were in, soon brought us to Miss Hotchkiss. She greeted Holmes by name, and extending her greeting to me, expressed her pleasure that we could attend on such short notice. I detected a note of relief in her voice, relief that we had come. After brief pleasantries she asked if we could stay afterwards, there was a matter she wanted to discuss with us. Holmes assured Miss Louisa we would remain afterwards, which promise satisfying her the conversation ended, and we moved on.
Champagne was being served, and I took a glass. To my surprise Holmes, who rarely imbibed, took a glass also. He was in high spirits, no doubt looking forward to an interesting conversation with Miss Louisa, and we drank together. The Champagne was an excellent Moet, chilled to perfection, cold but not too cold. It was very good. I took a second glass, and then a third. The third glass considerably elevated my opinion of the Society. I was just finishing it, when Holmes suddenly turned to me and spoke.
“Well, Watson, what do you think?”
“Rather good Champagne I would say.”
“No, not that Watson, what do you think of it altogether?”
“The Society seems to be rather well off.”
“Yes, Holmes replied, “have you not heard of the Hotchkiss machine gun, the brainchild of Sir Alfred Hotchkiss? He is not famous, like Hiram Maxim, the American who originated the rapid-fire gun, but still Sir Alfred has done noble work in the endeavor of rapid killing guns. Society and Great Britain have not failed to reward him well, for his achievements in that important regard.” Holmes smiled cynically at his last statement, and continued on.
“Sir Alfred was knighted for his work, and is now one of the most wealthy and powerful men in England. He finances the Society through his daughter Louisa, who is its Secretary. Certainly the problem is not money, because they are awash in it. But there is something wrong, and it is important enough to have made her cry, and very thankful that we are here. No doubt you observed her red eyes.”
In fact I had not, but before I could reply Holmes suddenly took hold of my arm, and immediately set off towards the auditorium entrance, with me in tow. I saw the big doors were open wide, and then we moved forward and were carried in on a tide of well-dressed human flesh. We found seats, settled ourselves, and waited.
The speaker was a robust, florid faced man with a loud penetrating voice, like a foghorn. Astronomy was not my strong suit, and it seemed the speaker would go on forever. I vaguely remember his saying that dis-aster meant bad star, and that comets being bad stars were evil omens. After that I must have dozed off, with Holmes poking me in the ribs, none too gently, every time my snooze began to be comfortable, and I assume a little too loud. The next day I had a tenderness of the fifth rib. So much for the study of comets!
Holmes told me later he spent the time mentally working on a refutation of Fermat’s Last Theorem, because, as he said, “only a mathematical abstraction could drown out the utter drivel I was hearing.”
When I first met Holmes his lack of interest in astronomy was exceeded only by his ignorance concerning it. He had no knowledge of the Copernican theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun, rather than vice versa, and on learning about it from me, his response was typical.
“Now that I know about it, I shall do my best to forget it.” Then he told me about his belief in the brain’s absolute limitations.
“Depend upon it, there comes a time when, for every addition of new knowledge, you forget something you knew before. Therefore it is of the greatest importance not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
“But the Solar system!” I protested.
“What the deuce is it to me?” he said impatiently.
“You say we go around the Sun. If we went around the Moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me. Or to my work” That ended the discussion.
Finally the lecturer finished, and we retired to the reception area, where some refreshments were served to those remaining. The crowd had thinned out, evidently a good number had already left.
I looked in vain for more of the excellent Moet, but had to settle for an indifferent Moselle. Before I had time to finish just my first glass, Miss. Hotchkiss appeared. She invited us to speak with her on a matter of some delicacy, in complete confidence. We agreed and were led to a well-appointed room, with many old, esoteric books on the walls, obviously the library. Miss Hotchkiss invited us to be seated, closed the door, and seating herself then spoke at once, to the point.
“Mr. Holmes, I must speak with you on a matter of great delicacy. Every thing that is said here must stay here, it cannot leave this room” Holmes nodded his assent. Then she looked doubtfully at me.
Holmes said, “whatever you say to me can just as safely be said to my friend and confidant, Dr. Watson.”
Miss Hotchkiss was reassured by this statement, but still appeared quite concerned about something. She was obviously nervous and hesitant about speaking; her earlier image of poise and self-confidence had disappeared, to be replaced by the present picture of a troubled, distraught woman. While nervously twisting a little fine lace handkerchief in her hands, she told us the following most odd and curious story.
A Mr. Albert Fletcher, a Society member in good standing, was recently subjected to an amazing and deeply troubling experience. Afterwards he told about it, and confirmed the experience in a signed and sworn statement to the police.
He was taking his usual eleven o’clock evening stroll before retiring, the church spire clock had just struck eleven times, and he was walking down a forested foot path near his home in Woking, when suddenly he encountered several curious little men, grey with big egg shaped heads, no hair, noses or ears, and with very large oval eyes, all black. One beckoned him to follow them, and he did. For some curious reason he felt quite calm, not afraid, but was compelled to do as directed.
They led him to a nearby hollow, in which sat a large silvery object, big as a small house, and shaped like a pie plate or metal saucer. On their approach an opening appeared, and they entered. It was brightly lit inside, but he could not see any gas flames or candles, and it was quite cool. He was required to undress and stretch out on a very cold metal table. After that…he remembered nothing.
Later he was found in Cheltenham, where he wandered about as if dazed, quite unable to give an account of how he had arrived there. Passersby thought him intoxicated, and a constable was summoned. Being quite unable to give a rational account of what had happened, Mr. Fletcher was taken to the local jail and put in a cell. The police report gave the time of his incarceration as 12:10 P.M.
Presently the daze began to lift, he requested writing materials, and his signed sworn statement describing these events now rests with the authorities. After writing and signing the statement he appeared to become terrified and angry at the same time. It was thought best to keep him under lock and key, due to his strange story and agitated emotional state.
Here Miss Louisa stopped speaking, while the little fine lace handkerchief was nervously twisted faster than ever. She was white as a sheet, and quite unable to go on. Holmes looked at her with that peculiar fascination he had for what was coming. From experience we both knew that by far the most interesting, and probably the key part of the story, was about to be revealed. Certainly it was the most difficult for her to tell. Nothing she had told us so far was responsible for her extreme distress now.
I knew it was Holmes’s strict policy never to interrupt at this crucial and delicate point. So he sat there with unlit pipe in hand, and giving Miss Louisa his most reassuring look, waited for her to continue. She was obviously very reluctant to proceed, and said nothing.
Only I knew how urgent Holmes’s need was for her to go on. He sat there looking the perfect picture of patience, nothing was said, and the suspense was unbearable. Imagine my surprise when Miss Louisa turned away from Holmes, and towards me. She blushed a deep red, and then spoke directly to me.
“Doctor Watson, being a medical man you must have seen and heard many things beyond the general experience. If this were to become public- it would be simply awful, a terrible scandal, it would bring great disrepute upon the Society, and myself. Mr. Albert Fletcher has always been a man of sober habits, a man who attends Church every Sunday, and is in good standing with the Society. There was never any idea that…” and here she stopped, her hands fluttering upward helplessly like white caged birds, quite unable to continue. Then Holmes motioned for me to reassure her. There was no mistaking his surreptitious but clear gesture. Holmes was directing me to help her continue, and I did as he indicated.
“Yes, Miss Hotchkiss, I am a medical man, and as you rightly say, I have seen and heard many unusual things. A man of my considerable experience will not be surprised by anything you tell me. Please, by all means, please continue.”
Before she spoke I saw written plain on her face the dreadful thing was a terrible burden, a burden of such terribly heavy weight, that she desperately needed to share it with me, to lighten the burden. And then I saw her face change, and on it was plainly writ her decision to share it with me. Holmes saw it also, and held his breath in anticipation.
“Dr. Watson,” she said, “according to his sworn statement, admissible in a court of law, they attached a device to his sexual parts, he felt sexual desire, nature proceeded on its course, and they took his reproductive fluid.”
I had never heard of such a thing, and said so. Holmes was deep in thought. Miss Hotchkiss waited, perplexed but relieved that the dreadful thing had been bared. Finally Holmes spoke.
“I must see this man, and talk with him about his most unusual experience. We must be off! Watson, come with me. Miss Hotchkiss, I thank you for a most delightful evening, and now perhaps I can repay you by looking into this matter. Good evening!” And Holmes plunged out, with me doing my best to keep up.
We left so hurriedly my head spun, but then I am accustomed to Holmes’s abruptness with a case before him. A passing coach was hailed, and we were on our way to Cheltenham jail. Holmes remained hunched over in deep thought, entirely absorbed by the matter at hand. Finally he straightened up and spoke to me.
“What do you make of it, old chap?”
“Obviously a pint too many. Sleep it off, and all’s good as gold by morning.”
“Yes, that is possible, but I doubt it. The Society has strict standards for membership. If Mr. Fletcher tippled they would know it, and he would not be a member in good standing. And then there is his most curious story, and strange behavior.”
“The story is curious enough, I give you that. But I don’t see anything odd about his actions. An angry drunk is not uncommon.”
“Yes, Watson, that is true” Holmes replied, “but note the out of sequence events. Supposedly he became intoxicated, and then wrote a detailed, coherent statement and signed it. Only afterwards did he become angry and terrified, so much so that he was jailed. While terrified and angry he did not see anything out of the ordinary, so alcohol withdrawal, the usual delirium tremens, is not indicated. As a medical man you are no doubt familiar with the four stages of alcohol intoxication, are you not?”
“Yes, of course I am. First pleasant euphoria, then anger and the desire to fight, next maudlin sadness with crying, and finally unconsciousness in alcoholic coma, with resolution by either waking or death.”
“Right you are, old boy, right you are. Note that in this case Mr. Fletcher became emotional after his daze lifted, and experienced terror with anger, a combination unknown in alcohol poisoning. This plus the fact he never experienced the frightening hallucinations of delirium tremens, argues strongly against alcohol intoxication. We must speak with this most unusual man, or more likely, with this not uncommon man who has had a most uncommon experience.”
Then a strange, faraway look came into Holmes’s eyes, a look I had only seen before with his most puzzling cases, and he said, “Watson, this promises to be a most interesting case. By all means we must speak with Mr. Albert Fletcher as soon as possible. Driver! Make haste!”
Except for one question Holmes asked me, the rest of our trip was made in silence. He asked me what the distance was between Woking and Cheltenham. One of the maps I carry showed a distance of exactly 20 miles. Holmes directed me to recheck the distance and I found it on another map, which also said 20 miles. There was no doubt about it, the distance between Woking and Cheltenham was 20 miles. When I told Holmes this he gave a little grimace, and said nothing, but I could see the news displeased him, and left him agitated.
The driver did his best to follow Holmes’s order, and made haste over so many pot holes and ruts in the road, that when we finally arrived at Cheltenham jail, it was none too soon for me; my rear end was sore from the bouncings it had received.
Cheltenham jail was a gloomy old place, dark and foreboding, lit on the outside by a single lantern whose feeble rays, obscured by the dirty glass, gave only a weak, crepuscular light. We entered and identified ourselves to the single jailer on duty, who seemed an eager enough to please fellow, and then asked to speak with Mr. Albert Fletcher. The jailer surprised me by saying, “happy to oblige you, governor, but you can’t speak with him.” Holmes immediately said sharply, “what do you mean?”
To which the turnkey replied in a regretful voice, “I’m sorry, sir, but you can’t speak with the prisoner, because he’s not able. He’s dead.”
Holmes’s face showed nothing of the disappointment he felt, and he spoke at once.
“Well then, we must see the body. My associate is a physician.”
The turnkey led us to the small cell, and after lighting a candle for us, he unlocked and opened the cell door.
Holmes asked but one question.
“When was his death discovered?”
“About a quarter of an hour ago,” was the jailer’s reply. “If you need something just call out,” and as he was leaving said a local physician would be notified. Then he was gone.
“So recent!” said Holmes. “If only we had arrived a little earlier.”
I searched carefully for a pulse, but found none. I put my ear to his bared chest above the heart, and heard nothing. When the small mirror I always carry was held close to his open mouth, there was no sign of condensation on it. Evidently his heart had stopped beating, and he was not breathing. No doubt about it, he was dead.
My investigation of Mr. Albert Fletcher’s body showed a middle-aged, somewhat corpulent man. His face showed no sign of grog blossoms, and when at Holmes’s request I removed his clothing and examined the body, I saw no alcoholic petechiae. Evidently Mr. Fletcher had not been in the habit of imbibing to excess. I saw no wounds, no blood, or any other signs of foul play. The cause of death was unknown.
“Examine his sexual parts carefully, Watson. No doubt you are much more familiar with their anatomy than I am.”
I brought the candle close and made an inspection. All appeared normal; there was no sign of disease. On more careful inspection I did see something not normally present, several small scratch marks, Holmes examined them carefully, but said nothing. Then he stood up.
“Time of death, Watson?”
“Within the last hour, I should think. Post mortem lividity is not yet evident, the limbs are still supple, and most important, the body is still warm. Yes, death occurred quite recently.”
“And the cause, Watson?”
“There’s a mystery,” I replied. “No marks on the body, no evidence of foul play. Too young for a heart attack or stroke, though they are always possible. I simply cannot say. Perhaps the autopsy will shed light on this question”
“Yes,” said Holmes, “the autopsy. I don’t think it will be very helpful, but we will see the results. No stone can be left unturned in our investigation, which now includes Mr. Albert Fletcher’s death. No doubt Miss Hotchkiss will be pained to learn of it. Yet his death will put an end to this matter, there will be no further publicity, and therefore no scandal.”
An end to the matter? It had hardly begun. I was indignant, Holmes’s statement baffled me, but I said nothing. Two days later, when Holmes explained how the man died, and the reason for his death, I understood that the publicity, having nothing further to feed on, would soon end. And so it did.
Holmes made arrangements for the dead man’s statement to be copied, and the copy delivered to us. Then it was back to the coach, and after another long, but not so fast and bumpy ride, for which I was very grateful, to bed. It had been a long and difficult night. Strange unknown things, all silvery, disturbed my sleep.
Next morning I woke tired, but eager to assist Holmes. He asked me to look into a matter related to the case, to verify the times involved. To do this I was required to visit both Woking and Cheltenham, and this took the entire day and part of the evening. After conveying my information to Holmes by messenger, I went to sleep, and this time slept soundly.
The next day I awoke refreshed, and over scrambled eggs and bacon I asked Holmes what progress, if any, had been made on the case. I was especially interested in the cause of death, and specifically asked about it. For a man not yet old, and in good health, to die under those circumstances- the jail cell bars that kept him in, also served to keep danger out. Foul play was unlikely, and we had found no sign of it. Death due to a natural cause was also unlikely. On careful examination nothing unusual had been found. The cause of death was extremely puzzling.
Imagine my surprise when Holmes said this in reply to my question regarding the cause of death.
“I have it here, Watson. Here is the cause of death,” And Holmes handed me a little glassine envelope. Inside was a wet mass of dark brown shredded material.
“Well, what do you make of it, old man?” Holmes asked cheerily, and then looked at me expectantly. I studied the material intently, but for the life of me could not make it out. Holmes said nothing. Finally it came to me that it looked like seaweed, and I said so.
Holmes was pleased by my answer.
“Bravo, old fellow, not bad,” he said. “You are not so far off. This material is of vegetable origin, but it has never seen the sea, though it is quite wet, as you observe. Wet with fresh, not salt water. A simple test on it with silver nitrate for chloride being negative, we can conclude it is wet with fresh, not salt water, for salt water is rich in sodium chloride, the chemical name for salt.”
“So,” I said, “it is of vegetable origin and wet with fresh water. That leaves only a million possibilities. What the devil is it?”
“Observe, Watson, I tease out a few pieces and show them to you. What do you see?”
I said I saw little thin shreds, much longer than wide, somewhat uniform in size. This again pleased Holmes, and he again responded enthusiastically.
“Capital, Watson, capital. What we have here are fine uniform thin shreds of vegetable matter soaked in fresh water. Microscopic examination shows they came from leaves. The leaves were dried before shredding. The drying employed a wood fire. “
This last was a little too much. I asked Holmes how he could tell the drying was by fire, and a wood fire at that, rather than say by gas heat or air?
“Watson, where there is a wood fire, there is always smoke. Smoke deposits characteristic black particles. They are not very numerous, but more than enough are present to tell the story.”
“So” I said, “before being wet with water it was dried by a wood fire, and then finely shredded. The purpose of this process eludes me. I haven’t the foggiest. Holmes, what is it all about”
“Think, Watson, think about it. Why was the leaf shredded so fine? The drying process was obviously to make the fine shredding possible. You cannot finely shred fresh leaf, try to do so and a gummy mass results. Why the fine shredding?”
Here I paused to think. Like Holmes I too had been a student of chemistry, and it came to me in a flash.
“The fine shredding, I said, increases the surface area, so the water extraction of the leaf is more efficient”.
“Yes,” said Holmes, “no doubt the extraction process applied to this material was in fact made more efficient by the fine shredding. And you are also correct in saying the purpose of the shredding is to increase the surface area. However the extraction process to which this material was applied, is not its intended use. The shredding’s purpose is not to make an extraction process more efficient.”
These words of Holmes shed no light whatsoever for me on the matter. The material’s nature and function, if any other than to confuse me, remained a complete mystery, and I said so..
“My dear Watson,” said Holmes, “you surprise me.” The material we are discussing is not rare or unusual. In fact it is an item of commerce. Common commerce.”
Item of common commerce! I could barely restrain myself.
“Holmes,” I said, “for the love of God you must tell me what it is at once. At once!”
“So I shall, Watson, so I shall, and at once, as you so forcefully request. But before I do, have you anything further to add towards the solution of this mystery? Anything at all?”
“Not a thing. If I may be allowed a pun, not a shred more can I add towards the solution of this mysterious material’s identity. Holmes, please do tell me what it is, before I burst. You must tell me at once”
“Watson, I shall do as you demand. But rather than tell you, I will show you. Your own eyes will provide everything necessary.”
I impatiently waited for the coming revelation. Holmes spoke.
“Concerning this material, Watson, I believe you have some right there, in your vest pocket. Be a good fellow and check in there.”
I did as Holmes directed. I put my finger in the pocket and found nothing unusual there. “Nothing there,” I said.
“Not quite, old fellow, not quite. I have observed your habits for some time now, and in fact there is something there. Don’t you feel it? Come now, check again in your vest pocket.”
Again I put my finger in the pocket. Nothing was there except my old drawstring pouch. I said as much.
“Yes,” said Holmes, “only that. Please do take it out.”
I removed my little drawstring tobacco pouch and laid it on the table.
“But,” I said, “that is only my tobacco pouch. You can’t mean that-.”
“Precisely, old fellow, precisely. That is just what I mean.”
“But,” I said, “there is only tobacco in there. You aren’t saying that…but it’s dry, not wet. I don’t understand”
“What you say is quite correct,” said Holmes. “The material in your tobacco pouch is dry, and this specimen of tobacco I showed you is quite wet. But consider for a moment from where I obtained this wet specimen of tobacco.”
“May the Devil take it, just where did you get it from?”
‘It came from poor Mr. Fletcher’s teapot. From where he made the deadly brew that killed him. Did you not notice he had been served tea?”
“Yes, now that you mention it, I did see a tea service. That jailer was seemingly an accommodating fellow. Or did he poison Mr. Fletcher?”
“No, Watson, there was no reason for the jailer to do so. There was no motive for the jailer to kill Mr. Fletcher, and murder without a motive is as likely as a hen’s egg with hair. And, there was no attempt to conceal what happened. The tea service was left out, in plain sight. No doubt Mr. Fletcher poisoned himself. His death was a suicide.”
“But,” I asked, “how do you know for sure that Mr. Fletcher was not given the tobacco extract in his tea by the turnkey, or perhaps someone else, and drank it unknowingly?”
“Watson, Mr. Albert Fletcher could not drink tobacco extract in his tea unknowingly, because the taste is extremely unpleasant, it is very bitter. In his agitated state of mind he must have wanted to escape the memory of his terrible experience so badly, that death was preferable. He died of acute nicotine poisoning. A fact only we will know.”
Holmes reflected on that for a moment, and then went on.
“At autopsy the brown liquid stomach contents will no doubt be passed off as tea, and with no signs of foul play, death will be certified as due to natural causes, and left at that. By now the teapot’s contents have been discarded, and it and the teacup are no doubt washed, and ready for service again. All the evidence other than ours has been destroyed. I was careful to leave some tobacco in the teapot, more than enough for identification, should the idea of looking there ever occur to the authorities. Oh, what fools they are! Watson, scientific crime investigation is still in its infancy.”
However I was not yet fully convinced, and gave voice to my doubts.
“How can you be sure it was tobacco, and not something else that killed Fletcher? And what induced you to look in the teapot?”
“Ah,” said Holmes, “I see doubt still lingers in your mind. Then let these facts put it to rest. Regarding the tobacco, there is no other leaf that merits the application of first large scale drying, and then expensive shredding machinery, in order to produce such fine, uniform shreds.” Holmes paused briefly, and then went on.
“The drying is by wood fire, rather than the more convenient and readily controlled natural gas, because the very large quantities involved make gas drying prohibitively expensive, and some in the industry believe drying by wood fire adds to the product’s flavor.
The shredding’s purpose is to increase the leaf’s surface area, so that when packed in a pipe or cigarette, it still accesses enough air to continue burning, that is, to be smoked.
On testing the leaf I obtained a positive test for nicotine. Nicotine, the natural alkaloid ingredient that gives tobacco its soothing and addictive properties. Nicotine, a deadly poison in quantity, the basis of the widely used, powerful agricultural insecticide Black Leaf 40.
With no signs of foul play on the body, I immediately suspected poison. He had pipe and matches, but his tobacco pouch, by the way bigger than yours, Watson, was empty. There was no tobacco on his lips, or in his mouth. Then I looked in the teapot, and there it was. Obviously the tobacco pouch’s contents had been emptied into the teapot, and with a little stirring the hot tea had efficiently extracted the deadly nicotine poison.”
I was fully convinced by Holmes’s detailed explanation, and proceeded to say so.
“Holmes,” I said, “I have never witnessed a finer piece of detective work. You have solved the case, and are to be highly commended for doing so.”
“Thank you, Watson,” Holmes said, “but I fear your heartfelt congratulation is a bit premature.”
Why premature? It came to me that there was still a question as to motive. Why did Mr. Fletcher kill himself? According to the information we received, he was a sober, steady man. What was the reason for his death? I must have been speaking out loud again, because Holmes immediately replied.
“Yes,” he replied, “the reason is somewhat puzzling, but not entirely so. For a man of sober and steady habits as Mr. Fletcher was, and a bachelor to boot, the experience he described must have been very disturbing. And then in addition, finding himself alone in the gloomy Cheltenham jail cell, may well have been enough, to make him decide to kill himself. Mr. Fletcher’s suicide is tragic, but no reason to keep the case open.”
“Holmes, you have indeed solved the case. And, if I may say so, brilliantly.”
It seemed to me everything that needed to be said had been said, and the matter was closed, to everyone’s satisfaction, including Holmes’s. Imagine my great surprise at the next words that issued from Holmes’s lips, words that I had never heard before, and that I hope never to hear again. Holmes first pursed his lips together, and then he spoke to me at once, with great force.
“Watson, there is a great mystery here, a mystery beyond solution!”
I was absolutely astounded. I was dumbfounded. In my entire association with Holmes, I had never heard him use the words “a mystery beyond solution.” Shocked speechless, I sat down and waited for what might come next. Holmes did not keep me in suspense, but began speaking at once, in slow, carefully measured words.
“Watson,” he said, “I bring to your attention the incredible circumstance of the great speed with which Mr. Fletcher transited from Woking to Cheltenham.”
I found my voice and replied.
“Great speed you say?” A distance of 20 miles, covered in one hour and 10 minutes. Any fast horse or coach can do that.”
“Not so Watson, not so. It is true the distance covered was only 20 miles. But the time, Watson, the time! The time required was not 70 minutes, but only 10 minutes.”
At Holmes’s request I had carefully verified the times involved. Mr. Fletcher was last seen in Woking by a reliable witness, shortly before 11:00 P.M., and on his own account, based on the church bell’s ringing, he was abducted at 11:00 P.M. According to the police report he was clocked into Cheltenham jail at 12:10 A.M. that same evening. I had personally checked both the church’s and the jail’s clocks, they were both correct, and more important, since a difference in time was involved, they agreed with each other to the minute.
“Only ten minutes Holmes? How can you say that? Upon my word, something is wrong with your mathematics.”
This just slipped out, I had not planned to be disrespectful, and besides I knew Holmes was an expert mathematician. I was never a whiz at mathematics, but it seemed perfectly plain to me, that one hour plus ten minutes later was 70 minutes. Holmes was an expert at mathematics, and I had never known him to be wrong, so while he waited I took paper and pen in hand, and wrote it down. One hour was sixty minutes, sixty plus ten was seventy, and 12:10 A.M. minus 11:00 P.M. was one hour and ten minutes, or seventy minutes. There it was, in black and white, and figures don’t lie.
My statement about his mathematics being wrong must have luckily run off Holmes like water off the proverbial duck’s back, because he immediately spoke on, in good spirits, without the least sign of annoyance.
“Right you are, Watson, right you are. Figures do not lie, but they can deceive.” He paused for a moment, and then fixing me with his piercing direct gaze, said this.
“Are you familiar with the concept of Daylight Savings Time?”
“No, I must say I am not. But I expect to be enlightened soon enough.”
“Yes old boy, you are correct, you are about to be enlightened regarding Daylight Savings Time. For your information Daylight Savings Time is a means of providing more useful daylight hours. In early spring when morning begins to come earlier, a date and time are selected on which timepieces are set forward one hour. For late fall the process is reversed. In the common vernacular, by this method of time keeping adjustment, time springs forward in the spring, and falls backwards in the fall. You are not familiar with it, because at present these time changes are limited to official agencies. All jails are of course affected.”
This information made my head swim, and I said so. Holmes replied, “just stay with it, old boy, just stay with it.” And he went on about Daylight Savings Time.
“The date and time selected to advance the time is by coincidence the same as Mr. Fletcher’s abduction. At exactly 11:00 P.M. the clock at Cheltenham jail was set forward one hour, from 11:00 P.M. to 12 midnight. When Mr. Fletcher was clocked in there, at 12:10 A.M., only ten minutes had passed, because the real, astronomical time elapsed was from 11:00 P.M. to 11:10 P.M., just ten minutes. Mr. Fletcher transited from Woking to Cheltenham, a distance of 20 miles, in 10 minutes. Ten minutes is one sixth of an hour, and so Mr. Fletcher’s minimum speed must have been six times 20, or 120 miles per hour.”
Here Holmes paused a moment, to reflect on the even more amazing thing he was about to say next, and then went on.
“I say minimum speed, because there is the matter of the times elapsed. Time elapsed in Woking during his abduction, and time elapsed at Cheltenham, before he was clocked in at the jail. These elapsed times must be subtracted from the ten minutes that were available for him to transit from Woking to Cheltenham. Altogether I estimate only five minutes were available, perhaps even less, for him to travel from Woking to Cheltenham. The five minutes travel time makes his speed to have been 240 miles per hour.”
“But,” I protested, “even the fastest steam train travels at less than 100 miles per hour, and there are no train tracks between Woking and Cheltenham. There is no earthly way of doing anything like that, no earthly way of going anywhere near that fast.”
“Precisely, my dear fellow, precisely. You have hit the nail right on the head, as usual. No earthly way…”
I was nonplused by this amazing revelation from Holmes, rendered entirely speechless. Based on what he had told me, his logic was impeccable, his conclusion flawlessly inevitable. This was an example in action of Holmes’s famous dictum: “When all other possibilities have been logically excluded, what remains is necessarily the truth, no matter how unlikely it seems.”
Holmes saw I was struggling to accept the truth he had arrived at, astounding and impossible as it was. Evidently he decided it was better to unload the whole nine yards on me at once, rather than proceed bit by bit. There was still more to come, something even more astonishing, and come it did.
Holmes paused a moment, took a draw on his pipe, and looked at me to see if I was ready for his next and final revelation. Evidently satisfied, he began speaking, this time softly, in a low voice, as if to cushion the shock value of his words, or so that no one else could hear them.
“Watson, has it ever occurred to you, that there may be life, intelligent life, on other worlds?” This greatly surprised me, coming from a person who I knew had no use whatsoever for astronomy, but then this was a time of surprises, no doubt about it.
“Can’t say I have. Never gave the matter any thought. No reason to.”
“Exactly, old boy, exactly so. No reason. Very few people have any reason, and even fewer have any cause to do so. Unfortunate Mr. Fletcher was one such. His experience was very disturbing, very disturbing indeed. I don’t think they meant him any harm, and they did not intend he should die. But nevertheless that was the result.”
“But Holmes, who do you mean by they?”
“By they, Watson, I mean, to quote from Mr. Fletcher’s statement, the ‘little grey men with big egg shaped heads, no hair, noses or ears, and very large oval eyes, all black’” Holmes continued on.
“Their actions in this matter do not show a higher intelligence, but only a more advanced state of technology. They obviously desired secrecy, yet their actions readily brought this matter to the attention of the authorities, and to us. No doubt the last thing they intended. There was no intention to harm Mr. Fletcher, and yet he is dead.”
“But” I said, “what was this whole affair about? Why did they abduct him in the first place?”
“Obviously their purpose was to obtain Mr. Fletcher’s semen, and evidently they were successful in this. It was intended that Mr. Fletcher would recover from the experience in a locality where he was not known, making him and his strange story less credible when he communicated it to the authorities. In this they were also successful.”
“But why should this experience have resulted in Mr. Fletcher killing himself?”
“My dear Watson, for a man of principle who is a life long bachelor, and perhaps quite ignorant and inexperienced concerning sexuality, to be handled in this extraordinary manner must have necessarily been very disturbing. And then for him to also be arrested, and confined in Cheltenham jail, at night! You saw what a dreary, depressing place it is. Altogether it was just too much for poor Mt. Fletcher to cope with. He chose to escape into death.”
I was reasonably satisfied, but had one last question.
“Holmes, why did they take his semen? What did they want it for? What will they do with it?” Holmes paused in reflection, reviewed his thoughts, and went on.
“Watson, they are studying us. They are studying us, and not just from afar. Evidently they can breathe our air, and our force of gravity suits them. History on Earth repeats itself, the lesson it teaches is always the same, and I reasonably assume it is the same everywhere. First comes exploration, and then colonization. Evidently they are only exploring now.” Holmes paused a moment to consider this, and then went on.
“As to why they might want human semen, there are a number of possible reasons. Since semen is a reproductive fluid, they are studying our reproduction. And, certain infectious diseases are transmitted through the sexual fluid. Concerning this possibility, we shall have to wait and see whether at some time in the not so distant future, a new, sexually transmitted disease appears, as if out of nowhere.”
Sherlock Holmes, the world’s best and most famous detective, paused for a long moment to sum up the situation, and then said this.
“Watson, at present we can only speculate further. To speculate publicly on this matter would only bring disbelief, followed by disrepute. Since nothing more can be deduced from the available evidence, there is nothing more to be done. Write this case up as usual, and since the circumstances of Mr. Fletcher’s death have been established, it can be considered closed.”
After a brief pause for consideration, he then continued on.
“However, due to the loose end of the matter relating to his abduction by space aliens, for no doubt that is what they were, I am far from satisfied, and think it best that the matter be closed at this time. To this end, the case is not to be published. It is closed, but not to my satisfaction, not to my satisfaction at all. It does not merit publication, and it is best that it not be published at this time.”
Everything proceeded just as Holmes had predicted. The coroner’s report stated, “The specific cause of death is unknown, but death is due to natural causes following alcohol intoxication.” Mr. Fletcher’s strange experience was ascribed as due to “alcohol intoxication,” and quickly forgotten, just as he, being a bachelor, was also quickly forgotten.
There was no scandal, and Miss Hotchkiss was very grateful. In addition to a large cash honorarium, we both received honorary Theosophical Society in London memberships, entitling us to attend any and all educational programs without charge. I could hardly wait, and said so to Holmes. The case of Sherlock Holmes And The Alien Abduction was closed.
It was closed, however, as Holmes had clearly stated, “not to my satisfaction, not to my satisfaction at all.”
I was instructed to withhold the case’s publication until 100 years after Holmes’s death, and this has been arranged.
Mr. Fletcher’s handwritten signed statement now graces Holmes’s study, along with many other curious mementos of other cases. On occasion Holmes’s gaze comes to rest on it, and his reaction is always the same; he lifts his eyes up to beyond the ceiling, obviously looking into the heavens above, while attempting to wrest more information from that uncooperative source, and failing to do so.
So Ends The Case Of Sherlock Holmes And The Alien Abduction.
The Human Immuno- deficiency Viruses, the HIVs, are transmitted primarily through the male sexual fluid, the semen, and suddenly appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, to cause the terrible disease AIDS. There are a number of theories regarding the origin of HIVs. One theory is that they are the creation of the little grey men with big egg shaped heads, no hair, nose or ears, and with big, oval all black eyes, who abduct people and take their semen.
The author of this book has examined the evidence concerning these theories, and in his opinion the evidence best supports the belief that the HIVs were created and initially spread by the little grey men, with the object of sickening and killing so many people, that effective, socially organized resistance will not be possible prior to colonization.
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Copyright © 2011 Phillip S. Duke Ph.D. (Phil Duke). Reproduction in part or in whole, in any form or by any method, is prohibited without the author’s permission in writing. The author can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Dedication. This story is dedicated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, originator and creator of detective Sherlock Holmes, Dr. James H. Watson, and their 60 original crime mystery case stories.
Disclaimer. This is a fiction book, and any resemblance between persons, places, things or anything else in it, and actual persons, places, things or anything else, is entirely unintentional and coincidental. The characters of detective Sherlock Holmes, Doctor James H. Watson, and their 60 original crime mysteries, are the creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The concept of the lost cases of Sherlock Holmes, and the case titled Sherlock Holmes And The Alien Abduction, are fictional creations of author Phil Duke.