YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES: DEATH CLOUD – CUT SCENE
The following text was removed from chapter 9 of ‘Death Cloud’ during editing. There were two reasons for this. The first was that the pacing of the chapter was a bit slow, and we needed to speed it up a bit.
The second was that the text involved rats, and there was a scene later in the book (in the tunnel under the Thames) where rats played a more important part, and I didn’t want to acclimatise people to the idea of rats too early.
Inside a waist-high stockade made of boxwood, a half-naked man stood grimacing at the crowd. His face and scrawny chest were painted in red stripes, and his hair was lank and hung around his shoulders. He wore a necklace that looked to Sherlock like it was made of teeth.
“See the Chickasaw,” a showman cried from behind the wooden barrier. “Straight from the jungles of High Barbaree. See him eat live rats right before your unbelieving eyes! Just a penny a person – the best penny you ever spent in your lives!” As the showman’s assistants passed through the crowd taking money, the showman added: “Wager, if you wish, on how many rats the Chickasaw can catch and eat! Will it be one? Will it be two? Will it be ten? Can you stand to watch as he tears their guts out with his teeth!”
As Sherlock watched, a wire cage containing thirty or forty rats was bought up to the wooden barricade. The rats swirled frantically inside the cage in a churning mass of grey hair and long brown tails. The Chickasaw – whatever that was – pointed at them, grinning and smacking his lips, playing up to the jeers and the cat-calls of the crowd.
The showman glanced at his assistants, checking that they had collected as much money as they were likely to. At their nods he reached for the cage, hefted it up to the edge of the barricade, expertly flipped a door open in its sides and poured the rats out into the arena in a continuous stream of living flesh. The rats twisted in mid-air, attempting to get away, but with the exception of one or two lucky ones, which somehow managed to acrobatically somersault over the barricade, they all ended up on the dirt floor of the arena, racing in all directions to get away.
The Chickasaw flung himself onto the ground, grabbing at one rat that was slower than the rest. His hand closed around its middle, and squeezed. The rat twisted, trying to bring its sharp teeth to bear on the Chickasaw’s hand, but he was too quick for it. With a sudden motion he bought it up to his mouth and bit its head off the way you might bite a chunk out of an apple. Blood splashed his face. He spat the head out and tore one of the rat’s legs off between his teeth.
Sickened, Sherlock turned away.
YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES: RED LEECH – CUT SCENE
The following text was written as an epilogue to ‘Red Leech’. I wrote it because I suddenly realised that I hadn’t made it clear that Duke Balthassar was associated with the mysterious Paradol Chamber.
After having written it, I had second thoughts. Maybe I could save that revelation for the third book. I didn’t want the Paradol Chamber to become too important too quickly.
The room was called the Paradol Chamber, and so was the group that met within it.
The room had nine walls, each of which was a different length from the others. Each wall was made of a different kind of wood – dark and light, soft and hard, rare and common. One of the walls was also a door, although once it was closed it was impossible to tell which one. There were no windows in the room, and the only illumination was provided by a globe hanging from the ceiling which glowed with a light that was not gas, or oil, or anything else known to man.
The table in the centre of this room was made of rough stone. It was the same shape as the room itself. Nine chairs were arranged around it, one to each side.
Eight people were sitting around the table.
“We have received a communication,” one of them said. He sat at the longest side of the table, but apart from that, there was nothing to say that he was in charge. “Duke Baltassar has been killed, and his plans have been halted.”
“Unfortunate,” mused a woman to his left. “This leaves a gap which needs to be filled.”
“You mean around this table?” the first man asked.
“I mean in the world at large,” she clarified. “Baltassar would have established a firm rule in a largely empty and lawless territory, and he would also have nibbled another small piece from the British Empire, which can only be to our advantage.”
Another man, sitting at another side of the table, leaned forward. He wore a uniform, and his twisted body was held in a framework of hinged and sprung metal to which his arms, legs, chest and head were attached with leather straps. Without it, he would have slumped to the table, unable to move. “Who exactly was responsible?” he asked in a thin, whispery voice.
The first man looked at him with some sympathy. “Initial reports suggest that a boy was there, Baron. A boy known to you, I believe.”
“Sherlock Holmes,” the twisted man hissed venomously. “Son of Mycroft Holmes, who is known to us all.”
“And pupil of Amyus Crowe, who has also caused us problems in the past,” a third man pointed out. He sat at the shortest side of the table, but he was the largest person there. He looked as if he could snap the table in two, if he wanted to.
“It is… uncertain…” the first man said, “to what extent this boy is responsible for what happened to Duke Baltassar, or to what extent his presence was accidental.”
“Was Amyus Crowe there as well?” a second woman asked. She was dark-skinned, Indian.
“He was,” the first man replied.
“And who paid for their tickets to America?” she asked, although she already knew the answer.
The first man nodded slowly. “Mycroft Holmes.”
“Then our course of action is clear,” the twisted man in the metal frame said. “We need to take action.”
“Against whom?” the Indian woman asked. “The child, his brother or his tutor?”
“Against all three,” the twisted man responded. “And quickly, before they disrupt any more of our plans.”
The other seven nodded in agreement. The rest of the business of the Paradol Chamber for that day was taken up with planning for the deaths of Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft Holmes and Amyus Crowe.