Previous Entry | Next Entry

Title: Interesting Times
Fandom: The Mystery of the Red House (A A Milne)
Rating: G
Length: 1,178 words
Summary: Antony Gillingham and Bill Beverly solve the problem of how Baxter disappeared without trace.
'Borrowed Title' from one of the books of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series

"So, how did Baxter get out of there?”  Bill Beverly asked.  “No-one saw him walk out of the cave, and yet he seems to have totally vanished.

“That is what I intend to find out,” Antony Gillingham replied.  “You know my methods, Watson.”

Bill chuckled.  “I did wonder whether he’d hidden a canoe in there, and then simply paddled out.  But I still think he’d have been seen.”

“Indeed he would.  Now I have a job for you.”

Bill gave a mock salute.  “What do you want me to do?”

“Go down to the bus station, or whatever they have here, and get the times of the buses to Starling-by-Sea.  Make an especial note of any buses which only run on one day of the week.  You can ignore the weekends.”

“Will do.  What are you planning on doing while I’m doing that?”

Antony looked around vaguely.  “I shall have another look inside the cave.  See if we’ve missed anything.  Don’t bother coming back here; the tide’s coming in.  I’ll meet you at the hotel.”

Bill, as a dutiful Watson, wandered along the esplanade until he came to the point where the buses seemed to congregate.  He took a notebook from his pocket and carefully wrote down the bus times.  He couldn’t think why they needed to take the bus to Starling-by-Sea, since they had motored down, but it wasn’t his role to ask those questions.

Bill then walked slowly back to the hotel.  There was no rush; luncheon wouldn’t start being served for another half hour.  As he walked, he kept an eye out for Antony, expecting to see him amongst the other holiday makers on the dwindling area of sand.  But there was no sign of him.  It was as though he too had disappeared.

However, as Bill approached the hotel, he spotted Antony walking along the path from the opposite direction.  He waved, and the two of them fell into step as they made their way towards the hotel’s front door.

“You’re looking very pleased with yourself,” Bill said.  “What have you discovered?  And how did you manage to come from the opposite direction.”

“All in good time,” Antony replied.  “First things first.  I have some wet clothing in this bag which I need to do something with.”

“Are you telling me you swam out of the cave?”

“Well, yes and no.  Technically, I didn’t actually swim out of the cave.  I’ll explain to you over lunch.”

Despite Bill’s continued questioning, Antony refused to provide any further details until they were eating their lunch.

“Hmm,” Antony said, “this pie is very good.  But I don’t think you want to hear my opinion on the culinary aspects of the hotel.  I had already decided to see if I could repeat Baxter’s movements, which was why I had my bag with me.  The bag, incidentally, is waterproof, which would prove vital.  I waited as the cave filled with water from the incoming tide, and then simply floated up with it.  It turns out that there’s a tunnel which goes from the top of the cave, but it’s too dark to see it normally.  So I simply swam over to the tunnel entrance and crawled up it.  It’s quite long and comes out on the far side of the hotel, which is why you met me walking back.”

“An old smuggler’s tunnel perhaps?” Bill said.  “But why has nobody gone down from this end?”

“It’s very overgrown and comes out behind a small clump of rocks, so it’s very unlikely anyone knows about it.”

“But it still doesn’t explain why no-one saw Baxter on the cliff tops.  He couldn’t have gone anywhere by the time it was discovered he was no longer in the cave.”

“That is where the information you provided regarding the bus times is vital.  During the week there’s a bus just after two o’clock, which he clearly couldn’t have caught, and the only other bus is at five, by which time they were looking for him.  But on Wednesday there’s a bus at quarter past three, probably because it’s market day somewhere.”

“And it was a Wednesday when Baxter disappeared?”

“Precisely.  So now we know how he managed to leave the area before anyone started looking for him.”

They finished their lunch and went to sit outside in the garden.  The sun was warm, and Bill was happily dozing, when Antony suddenly said, “I’ve a sudden fancy to visit Starling-on-Sea.  Can we go now?”

“Of course,” Bill replied.

As they were driving, Bill asked, “What do you expect to find in Starling-by-Sea?”

“That I don’t know.  But I will know when I find it.  And the only way to find it is by going there.”

They parked car and Antony pointed to a tea shop, so he and Bill went up the stone steps and found a table by the window.

When the waitress came to take their order, he said to her, “You seem very quiet in here.  It’s such a pretty place, I’d have expected you to have more customers.”

“Oh, we did earlier, sir,” the waitress replied.  “Lots of the day trippers come in here.  But they’ve left now, because they need to catch the last ferry back to Fairhaven.”

“And what time is that?”

“Oh, you’ll have missed it, sir.”

“That’s all right, I was thinking for another time.”

“It leaves at four o’clock.”

“Thank you.  That’s very helpful.”

They ordered tea and cake and Antony looked very pleased.

“You think Baxter took the ferry, don’t you?” Bill said.

“I think it’s entirely possible.  When we’ve finished our tea, we can stroll down to the harbour and find how far it is from the nearest bus stop.  And if, as I suspect, it’s no more than a five-minute walk from the bus stop to the jetty where the ferry departs, then yes that’s what he did.”

They enjoyed their tea, left a generous tip for the waitress and walked down to the sea front.  Bill pointed out the bus stop as they passed it.

“You know, you have to admire Baxter,” Antony said as they looked out to sea.  “His planning was meticulous.  He chose a date when the tide gave him access to the tunnel in the cave, and he caught a bus before anyone realised what had happened.  From there he merges in with the day trippers returning to Fairhaven and catches the train back to London before the alarm is raised.”

“Congratulations, Holmes, on another case brilliantly solved!”

“You don’t sound as enthusiastic as I feel you should be, Watson.”

“Now it’s solved there’s no reason for us to stay down here, is there?”

“I don’t know, we’ve paid for the room for another three nights, and I doubt the proprietor will give us a refund if we leave early, and when I emerged from the tunnel earlier I spotted a secluded little beach which I thought would be well worth us exploring, if you’re game.”

“You know me, willing to play any game you might suggest.”




stonepicnicking_okapi: okapi (Default)
[personal profile] stonepicnicking_okapi wrote:
Apr. 12th, 2019 11:33 pm (UTC)
Absolutely brilliant! You have such a way with the case fic! And my shipper's heart is very happy they got extra nights at the inn and a little frolicking in the sands! And hurrah for more Bill/Tony!
smallhobbit: (Reichenbach)
[personal profile] smallhobbit wrote:
Apr. 13th, 2019 08:52 am (UTC)
Thank you very much, I'm delighted you like it. Bill/Tony is such a great pairing.


[community profile] fan_flashworks is an all-fandoms multi-media flashworks community. We post a themed challenge every ten days or so; you make any kind of fanwork in response to the challenge and post it here. More detailed guidelines are here.

The community on Livejournal:
[ profile] fan_flashworks


Latest Month

April 2019
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios
Designed by [personal profile] chasethestars