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Thursday, 8 November 2012

image for The Somewhat Violent Adventures of Sherlock Hunt: The Case of the Missing Apple

It was a quiet Thursday morning and we were browsing the newspapers in Hunt's Baker Street apartment. There was troubling news - riots had broken out at a factory in London. Sherlock had a personal interest in the matter, for it had happened at Jenkins' Opium Refinement Plant, the factory that provided his private supply of opium.

"Bastards! The greedy bastards!" he raged. "Did you read this, Watson?"

"Yes, I..."

"I don't like revolts. Take the French, constantly fighting amongst themselves like beasts. They are truly a revolting people."

"Quite."

"That reminds me, the French ambassador is coming over this morning. I wonder what he wants."

As if by magic, the doorbell rang at that very moment. It was the French ambassador and his assistant, who had come to see Sherlock Hunt about an urgent matter. I bade them come in and sit down.

I reached for the cigar case and was about to offer the ambassador a brandy and a smoke. However, before I could speak, Sherlock drew his pistol and shot the Frenchman in the chest. He was dead.

"Monsieur Hunt!" shrieked his assistant. "What is the meaning of this?"

"He went for his gun," replied Sherlock. "He was going to kill me."

"No he was not! You shot him without reason."

"I did not."

"Yes you did. You..." Before his assistant could finish, Sherlock Hunt shot him dead too. Both bodies lay still across the couch.

He turned to me and said, "You saw him. He was going for his gun."

I didn't know what to say, so I kept my mouth shut. It was at times like this that I began to suspect Sherlock Hunt of psychopathic tendencies. But I have heard that all geniuses have their foibles.

"Hey! What's happened to my fahking apple?" Sherlock began looking frantically the room. "I left an apple by the window sill, and now it's gone."

"You ate it, Sir," I said politely.

"Well if I ate it, where's the bleeding core?"

"Down there by your seat," I suggested, pointing cautiously at the fresh apple core on the floor.

"No," he said. "That's the one I had earlier. Some street urchin must have nicked my apple. Do you know apple thefts have gone up four hundred per cent since they opened that orphanage?"

Pocketing his pistol, he headed for the door. "Come on. Let's go down there and have a word."

I followed him down the stairs. As we left the front door, he called out to the landlady, "Mrs Hudson. Two more bodies for you!"

"Fank you, Sir," came the reply.

We arrived at Paddington Orphanage within a few minutes brisk walk. Miss Booksome was the proprietor, a prim and proper lady with a gentle manner.

"Good day, Sirs," she smiled as we charged in. "How may I help you?"

"One of your little toe-rags stole my apple," shouted Hunt.

"I'm sure that can't be true. We only take in young orphan boys aged 10 to 14, and train them to be proper gentlemen."

"Oh yeah?" Hunt was angry. "Let's see your larder."

"I beg your pardon, but that will not be possible," said Miss Booksome crossly.

Sherlock Hunt glared for a moment, then slapped Miss Booksome firmly across the face. She gasped. Her cheek glowed red from the blow and her face revealed a state of complete shock, and, I believe, mild arousal.

"Show me your larder!" barked Hunt.

"Yes, Sir," replied the suddenly obedient Miss Booksome. She led us up a corridor to a dirty room, in the middle of which was a table holding a bowl of fruit.

"There you go. That's my bloody apple," said Hunt, and he grabbed the fruit from the bowl.

At that moment, an emaciated boy entered the room holding an empty plate.

"Hello Timmy," said Miss Booksome. "What do you want?"

"Please Miss," snivelled the pathetic looking urchin. "Can I have some more gruel?"

"Clear off!" shouted Hunt. "You'll get a clip round the ear, you apple-stealing git." The boy ran off. "It was him. He took my apple."

"That was Timmy the cripple," said the woman. "He only has one lung, and he's very sick. There's no way he could have stolen your apple."

"This isn't the last you've heard from us," threatened Hunt and we left. "It's an organised fruit-pinching gang," he muttered under his breath.

As we walked off, I couldn't help admiring how Sherlock had known that the apple in the orphanage was the same one he had lost. His powers of observation were absolutely extraordinary.

We took a detour back to Baker Street, and I realised we were in the neighbourhood of Jenkins' opium factory. There was a large crowd blocking the road ahead of us. They were chanting loudly and were haranguing an elderly top-hatted gentleman whom they had surrounded.

"What's going on here? Jenkins, are you all right?" asked Sherlock.

The old top-hatted man turned and waved. "Yes, quite well. These are my employees. They're unhappy at having to work in the factory turning the handwheels for eighteen hours at a time. They're asking for three pence a day."

"Three pence a day? Three pennies a day??" Sherlock was very angry. He climbed up a small stairwell and called the crowd's attention.

"Right, you lot. You want three pence a day?"

The crowd shouted back "Yes" in unison.

"Then you're all fired. Go on, fahk off. You can protest here all you like, you're not getting your jobs back."

The protesters looked shocked, but so final were Sherlock's words that they could not talk back at him. Some slunk away. Others chattered among themselves. None of them troubled Jenkins or Sherlock Hunt any more.

"Thank you so much, Mr Hunt," said Jenkins. "I couldn't have done that myself."

"All in a day's work," said Sherlock.

"I just have one problem now. Who is going to work in my factory? I've got half a tonne of raw opium that needs refining."

Sherlock grinned a wide smile and said, "I've got just the people. And what's better, they won't ask for three pennies a day. In fact, you can pay them in gruel."

So it was that the orphans from Paddington Orphanage were forced to work at Jenkins' Opium Refining Plant. Hunt threatened to report them for apple robbery if they did not comply. They all worked eighteen hour days for a handful of gruel, even Miss Booksome and Timmy the cripple. Soon Jenkins' were making opium so economically that it was the cheapest in all of London.

Myself and Sherlock retired to Baker Street with a batch of freshly cut, bargain opium. He sat down on his armchair and filled a syringe with a solution of the strong drug.

"Case closed," he said, and injected the syringe into an apple, before eating it and passing out on the floor.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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