LNH20/HCC: Kung-Fu Holmes # 3

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Wed Aug 28 16:22:15 PDT 2013

Tom Russell presents
an LNH20 story

   "Damndest thing, Holmes," said Cyborg James Boswell. "A package for you."
   Kung-Fu Holmes puffed at his meerschaum. "I deduce that it is from the orient."
   "So it is, Holmes!" cried Cyborg Boswell in rapturous delight. "From Sumatra! You never cease to amaze me!"
   "That's why I keep you around."
   "I'm ever so grateful! But tell me, how on earth did you deduce that?"
   "Further," said Kung-Fu Holmes, ignoring him, "I would say that the package contains a living creature."
   "Ah," said Cyborg Boswell. "I think the breathing holes gave it away."
   "Hmm? Oh, yes, breathing holes."
   "What other mysteries can you decipher through your keen powers of observation, deduction, and inference?" sniveled Cyborg Boswell.
   "The animal in question is a rodent of unusual size," said Kung-Fu Holmes. "And her name is Matilda."
   "Oh! May I open it, Holmes, to confirm this triumph of your gargantuan intellect, may I?"
   "You may."
   Cyborg Boswell opened the package. There sat a large rat, half a meter in length from tail to snout, wearing a pink collar with a metal tag. Etched onto the collar was the name MATILDA BRIGGS.
   "Oh, Holmes," said Cyborg Boswell. "You would make me the happiest cyborg of all if you could but explain how you achieved this marvel of deduction. But please, use small words, as you know that I am incredibly stupid."
   "I ordered it. Online. The package was scheduled to arrive today. This is my new pet, Matilda Briggs, a giant rat of Sumatra."
   Cyborg Boswell stared at the rat. "But, but Holmes! Why ever do you need a pet rat?"
   "Do you recall, Cyborg James Boswell, the Adventure of the Man with the Twisted Hip?"
   "Indeed I do, Holmes," said Cyborg Boswell. "You set his hip right with a deft demonstration of a karate chop. Though I believe the man in question claimed otherwise."
   "Yes, well, the terms of the settlement require that we not mention that bit," said Kung-Fu Holmes testily. "But you may recall that the completely curative chop, which almost certainly did not cause lasting harm and chronic back-pain, was administered in a pet shop?"
   "I do not recall it, Holmes," said Cyborg Boswell, "on account of I am a hopeless dullard not blessed with your incredible retentive powers."
   "During the administration of that karate chop, it is alleged that I also chopped one rodent cage."
   "So you did, Holmes!"
   "So you didn't, Holmes," said Cyborg Boswell.
   "But, at the insistence of the proprietor, I purchased said cage, and there it sits." He pointed to a dented, allegedly karate-chopped cage. "And so I thought I might as well have something to fill it. Hence, Matilda. Place her in the cage, Cyborg Boswell."
   "At, at once, Holmes," said Cyborg Boswell. He stared at the rat, despondent. "Holmes?"
   "If it's just a matter of filling the cage, you needn't have the rat. I could live in the cage. Then I could be with you always. I would never have to go home."
   "Yes, well, that's not terrifying at all," said Kung-Fu Holmes. "No, Matilda it is. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to embark on the adventure of the speckled band." He darted into the bathroom.
   Cyborg Boswell picked up the rat, placed her in her cage, and clasped shut the door. "I'm on to you, Matilda," he said, pointing at the rat with his mechanical laser-powered finger. "Don't think you can squirm your way into his heart with your razor-sharp teeth and beady red eyes. I will not allow it!"
   The door to the bathroom swung open. "Watson! We must be off! I've just heard news of a terrible murder!"
   "But I'm not Watson, Holmes," said Cyborg James Boswell. "He's been dead for years. Does this mean that you think of me, at long last, as his worthy successor?" Tears welled up in his mechanically-enhanced eyes.
   "No. I just wish he was here instead of you," said Kung-Fu Holmes.
   "As well you should, Holmes, as well you should."
   "And Never-Will-Be-Watson, bring Matilda, will you? The air should do her some good. I think. I don't know from rats."
   "I do think you're right, Holmes, right as always," said Cyborg Boswell. He grabbed Matilda's cage begrudgingly and followed Holmes out of his room. "But how in blazes did you hear news of a terrible murder while you were on the toilet?"
   "From the room directly below us, I heard a distinctive 'gak'."
   "Murder! In LNHHQ?"
   "I'm almost certain it's the work of Murder Lad," said Kung-Fu Holmes. "Honestly, I don't know why they let that guy in. About as sensible as Knife-Throwing Man."
   "Here's the room below ours, Holmes," said Cyborg Boswell. "I believe it belongs to Knife-Throwing Man."
   Kung-Fu Holmes grabbed the doorknob with a kung-fu grip. He twisted it! Nothing happened. "Locked!" said Kung-Fu Holmes. "Perhaps that fiend Murder Lad is still inside! Stand back."
   Cyborg Boswell and Matilda took a step back.
   "Farther back!"
   Cyborg Boswell took another step.
   "Still farther! For your own safety! For when I clench my fist and it begins to glow, it becomes like unto a thing of potassium!"
   He punched the door. Nothing happened.
   "Huh. I must have done that wrong. Maybe it becomes like unto a thing of sodium?"
   He punched the door again.
   "Like unto a thing of praseodymium?"
   Matilda made a squeaking noise. Startled, Cyborg Boswell dropped the cage, breaking open the door.
   Matilda darted towards Kung-Fu Holmes.
   "Like unto a thing of Lawrencium! No, that’s not it..."
   Matilda scurried up his leg.
   "Ah! Ah! Get it off me! Get it off me!"
   Matilda jumped down, having snagged Holmes's lock-picking kit from his pocket. She dropped it at his feet.
   "I suppose that's one way to go about it," said Holmes, who proceeded to pick the lock.
   "I could have told you that, Holmes," said Cyborg Boswell. "I just didn't want to make you look bad."
   "Don't worry, Cyborg Boswell. Next to you, I always look good."
   "Quite right, Holmes."
   "We can't all have Matilda's charm and good looks, can we? Who's a pretty princess, yes you are. I should just have you replace Replacement Watson, hmm?"
   In they went. Sitting at a desk in the windowless room was Knife-Throwing Man. A knife was sticking out of his forehead, and he wore a blindfold.
   "We need to look for clues," said Kung-Fu Holmes. "Be careful not to disturb anything."
   "Of course not, Holmes."
   "Hi-yak!" Kung-Fu Holmes kung-fu-chopped the drywall. "No clues here." Then, he investigated the night-table, breaking an expensive vase. "Nor here."
   Matilda scurried up to the corpse and from its pocket produced the room key.
   "Oh, this is a mystery!" remarked Kung-Fu Holmes. "No windows, the room locked from the inside, and no sign of the killer."
   Matilda flipped through the dead man's day planner. She squeaked dramatically at Cyborg Boswell.
   Cyborg Boswell looked at the rat, and at her paw, which pointed to the current day and hour. This was the time he regularly devoted to "dangerous blindfolded knife-throwing practice".
   Cyborg Boswell pocketed the planner. "Always wanted one of these. Hmm. How in the deuce could he have escaped, I wonder? The murderer. Who murdered him. Because he was murdered."
   Matilda facepawed. Then she stared at the knife, considering the depth of its penetration and angle. She stared at the ceiling, noting the several knives stuck in it, then let her eyes slowly plummet down into his skull.
   Matilda grabbed a penny from the desk, tossed it in the air, and let it hit her on the noggin. She did it again, and again.
   Cyborg Boswell noticed; Kung-Fu Holmes was busy drop-kicking the bed for clues.
   Matilda tossed the penny up into the air. Cyborg Boswell snatched it away.
   "Maybe," said Holmes, slightly exhausted, "maybe he was in the room, but rushed out when we came in? Is that a thing?"
   "Sounds plausible to me, Holmes."
   "Then I've solved the mystery," said Holmes. "Good for me. My record remains impeccable! Now to get some ice for my hand..."


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