Updated: May 15
The shock of Emily’s name uttered with the word kidnapped pulled me back into alertness. Emily was two years my senior and like a second mother to me after our own had passed. Despite my being in constant trouble and a thorn in our father’s side, Emily always took up for me. She was the one person in this world that believed in me, though I‘d long stopped believing in myself. A sense of ferocious anger ripped through me. If any one laid so much as a hair on her head…
“Follow me,” Sherlock said and with that we were off again. The breakneck pace continued but this time I worked to keep up. Sherlock made his way down side streets and dark alleys until we arrived at what appeared to be an abandoned crematorium. He pulled out a key and put it in the lock.
“You live here?” I asked.
“I bought it from a spinster who’s husband had died,” he said, throwing open the door.
Once inside he procured an oil lamp and turned it on, sitting it upon a dusty table. He motioned for me to sit. I pulled out a chair and he took a note from his pocket. He opened the sheet of paper and handed it to me.
“Does this look familiar to you?” He asked, handing it to me.
I inspected the page and turned it over.
“It’s blank,” I said.
”So it would appear,“ he said. “But study it more closely. Look at the watermark for example.“
I held it up to the light. It bore the watermark of Beaumont and Sons paper company. I could see nothing remarkable about it that would warrant attention. “No,” I said finally. “It’s just an ordinary piece of stationary.“
“But where did it derive from is the essential question?” He said, leaning forward with an eagerness I’d never seen in him before. “Is it like any your father or sister would have kept?”
“No,” I said. “Father always used scratch paper he brought home from work. Nothing ever this nice.” A lump rose clear up into my Adams apple. No matter our differences, I loved my father. It pained me to think we’d never have a chance to mend our relationship, but this was no time to mourn.
“And your sister?” Sherlock said.
“She used something much more feminine with a symbol on top.”
“I thought as much,“ Sherlock said. “Now let’s see what other secrets are to be revealed.” He took the sheet and held it gently over the lamp, careful not to get it too close to the flames. Words began to appear where none had been before.
“Invisible Ink,” I cried out. I stood up to get a better look.
“Precisely,” he said. The message that slowly appeared read as follows:
High Citizens 129 Midnight
I collapsed back into my chair with a sickening thud. “I’ll kill whoever is responsible for this.” I muttered. “What on earth does it mean?”
"It means that someone wants the contents of safe deposit box 129 at Citizens bank on High Street by midnight and they expect us to procure it for them." Now that he'd said it, it seemed like it should have been obvious.
"That would be a crime," I said, feeling the panic rise in my throat. If there was one thing that Sherlock Holmes didn't do, it was commit theft, no matter how honorable the reason. I myself had some history with criminality but stealing a secured safe deposit box in broad daylight is a much more complicated operation than pilfering
the occasional wallet from a distracted patron.
"I'm pretty sure that's the idea," he said. "I'm afraid this confirms my fears."
"What do you mean, confirms your fears? What is all of this about?"
"Moriarty," he said and then sat down in a chair in a dimly lit corner and pulled out a pipe.