The Case of the Crazy Kidnapping
A Shirley Holmes Fan Fiction

by MacGyverMagic
November 12, 2000         21,760 words
a part of the Magical Mystery Series starring Jeffrey Brisbane



DISCLAIMER: OK, HERE’S THE LEGAL STUFF. I DO NOT OWN ANY CHARACTERS FROM THE ADVENTURES OF SHIRLEY HOLMES. I JUST USE THEM FOR FUN AND FUN ONLY AND ALL I GAIN FROM THIS STORY IS FUN. PLEASE DON’T SUE, AS SOMEONE ELSE SAID BEFORE ME “IT WOULD BE A WASTE OF VALUEBLE COURT SPACE TO SUE ME” JUST ENJOY THE STORY AND SEND ME FEEDBACK AT: MacGyverMagic@gmail.com PLEASE DO SEND FEEDBACK. THEORIES ON HOW IT’S DONE ARE EXTREMELY WELCOME, IT WILL HELP ME TO FOOL YOU. FEEDBACK IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE QUALITY OF THE STORIES THAT WILL COME UP LATER.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I KNOW SHIRLEY AND ALICIA SHARE A DORM, BUT THIS STORY IS SET SOME TIME AFTER THEY GET AN OWN DORM. I KNOW THIS ONLY HAPPENED IN MY FANFIC WORLD OR MAYBE IN SEASON 3 OR 4 (BUT I DIDN’T SEE THOSE YET). SO TAKE IT LIKE IT IS. HAVE FUN.

PART 1: PROLOGUE, HOW IT BEGAN…

It was early Sunday morning when Shirley’s alarmclock sounded waking the young the detective from a deep sleep. Still sleepy she pushed the off button and turned over again to try to get back to her dream. She smiled when she thought back to it. Somehow she was comfortable with a dream about a romantic involvement with Bo Sawchuck, her trustworthy companion in crime solving. She had always claimed love wouldn’t make her lose her sanity. However she realized it slowly started to change. Within some time she might have to adjust her statement on the subject. Lying in her bed thinking about Bo like this, she suddenly remembered why the alarm had sounded. Quickly she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and ran towards the bathroom. She had agreed to meet Bo just 45 minutes later. Lucky for her the bathroom wasn’t occupied. She quickly stepped in and locked the door behind her.

**********

After feeding Watson and grabbing a quick breakfast for herself she left for Bo’s house 20 minutes later. She arrived there just in time for here ‘appointment’. She put the lock on her bike and rang the doorbell. It took a few minutes for someone to answer, but finally the door opened.

“Hi Shirley, glad you could make it in time! I think I’ve got something you’d like to see.” Bo said enthusiastically. He pushed the door open further and let Shirley pass him. Bo closed the door again and walked upstairs to his room. Shirley followed soon after.

**********

Shirley sat on Bo’s bed examining some books. She was surprised by the diversity of books present. Bo owned books ranging from third rate novels to Shakespearean literature. He didn’t really read them. But his mother had bought the books, so Bo would become wider educated. From the corner of her eyes Shirley could see Bo was looking for something in the mess that was his room.

“Looking for something?” Shirley asked him. She looked up from the book on the astronomy of our solar system she was reading and she looked at him. Bo was rumbling to a desk drawer. Suddenly he stopped and pulled out a piece of paper with printed text on it.

“No, I found it!” he finally replied to Shirley. Shirley closed the book and signaled him to start telling her what it was all about. “I printed a story from some paper or news program on the Internet. It was only printed yesterday.” Shirley raised an eyebrow in curiosity. Bo scraped his throat and started reading.


NOTORIOUS CRIMINAL ESCAPES FROM JAIL

CHICAGO – The Chicago Police Department were baffled by the escape of the well-known gangster Joe Moreno. He had been arrested and convicted for murder, kidnapping, illegal possession of arms, drug dealing, theft and several other crimes. He was sent to 25 years imprisonment since he was proven guilty of all charges. He left the penitentiary prematurely, without leaving any traces as to his methods. The police and FBI have been interrogating his fellow inmates, but none of the organizations involved are prepared to give a statement in the interest of the investigation. From a reliable source however we found out Moreno might be heading for Redington for some unfinished business. If you have any information on the whereabouts of this man please call your local police station.

Under the small article there was the picture of a man in his fourties, quite small for his age, with short brown hair and a pock marked face. His eyes showed true evil. In Shirley’s opinion that wasn’t very common these days. Somehow she managed to meet these evil people over and over again. She genuinely hoped she didn’t have to meet the man face to face. Shirley shrugged. “That’s it?” she asked Bo slightly disappointed. For once in her live she found a mystery she figured the police would have to handle.

“Uh, yes!?” Bo started out, “But don’t you get it? He is coming here and we could hand him over to the police. Aren’t you even the slightest bit curious about how he got out of jail? That’s the greatest mystery I ever encountered. You should be excited!” Bo explained. Shirley sighed.

“I don’t know Bo…It seems dangerous…” Shirley uttered.

“You never backed down from danger before.” Bo said, “You never even considered the dangerous elements in our mysteries. By the way, it’s for a good cause. I think what he is in Redington for.”

“What?” Shirley asked.

“ A few months ago I read that Mr. Gianelli got him behind bars performing a citizens arrest. Moreno is furious at him. But he has a method that will certainly hit him…” Bo said. Shirley interrupted him and a finished his sentence.

“Kidnapping Alicia…” she gasped.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 2: THE PLOT STARTS TO UNFOLD…

The next morning it was a bit foggy outside. Better weather with lots of sun was predicted for the rest of the day anyway. Shirley had enough time to get to Sussex Academy at her leisure. She walked in a slow tred absorbing her surroundings and analyzing them at the same time. It was just a habit she couldn’t get rid off. When she came to the front gate of Sussex, she ran into Bo.

“Hey Shirley, you’re up bright and early!” he greeted her. Shirley was distracted from her previous thoughts and gave Bo a weird look. Bo looked back at her. He forgot what he said as he thought of Shirley. He didn’t admit it, but he actually WAS in love with her. Then Bo was also brought back from the deep pit of his inner thoughts. This time Shirley spoke.

“What did you say?” she said. Bo was confused for a moment, but then he remembered what he had said and answered.

“I said: Hey Shirley, you’re up bright and early!”

“Well I didn’t have much of a choice,” Shirley answered “I didn’t have much sleep last night. That escaped convict haunted my thoughts.”

“Not much of a mystery then! You already found him.” Bo grinned. Shirley didn’t want to admit it, but she had yet again encountered a mystery she couldn’t refuse. After a pause Bo continued. “But seriously, we owe it to Alicia to protect her, she is our friend.” Shirley sighed.

“You’re right…but we don’t tell her. I don’t want to worry her unnecessarily.” Bo agreed with her as they headed for their lockers. It was relatively quiet in the school. In half an hour the school would fill with many more students. Shirley carefully opened her locker making sure not to expose the code. She didn’t want anyone to gain access to her locker, since there was some valuable equipment in there. She got her trigonometry book out of the locker. Suddenly she heard a voice behind her.

“Hi Shirley! How has your weekend been.” The voice had startled Shirley so much she accidentally threw her book across the hallway. It almost hit Bo. She turned to see whom the person was that owned the voice. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you like that…nervous for the big day are you?” Shirley saw it was Alicia. She walked towards her book and picked it up. “Wow, touchy!” Alicia grinned. “Bad conscience perhaps?” Shirley didn’t know whether to lie to her or tell the truth. After a few seconds she made a decision.

“You were right. Organizing my birthday party took a lot out of me. Don’t be surprised when I fall to sleep in class.” she lied as she walked back to her locker and closed it.

“So when is the party?” Alicia informed.

“Next Sunday.” Shirley replied. “You’re invited too.” The hallway was filled with people now. Students and teachers swarmed around each other, each person starting someplace and ending at a specific destination. It was messy yet orderly. Then a buzzer sounded. Shirley and Alicia walked over to Bo and walked with each other to trigonometry class.

*********

The regular teacher had become ill over the weekend. He ate some bad prepared sushi. So the trigonometry class had to have a substitute teacher. Ms. Stratmann entered the classroom with good-looking man in his late twenties. He seemed a bit uncomfortable in his tuxedo. He didn’t know it wasn’t school policy to wear one. Bad luck for him. Several students giggled pointing at the uneasy man in front off the classroom. Ms. Stratmann ordered everyone to be silent and started her introduction.

“Since your regular teacher is sick due to food poisoning, I’ve got the privilege to introduce you to your substitute teacher Mr. David Osment. He has taught at some of the best boarding schools in the world, so I’m very proud he is willing to fill in here. I expect you to be nice to him and make him feel comfortable during his time her at Sussex Academy.” she said to introduce the man. “They’re all yours. Good luck.” she after he introduced him. She left the classroom.

“Thanks…” Mr. Osment said to no one in particular. He paced up and down in front of the class a few times before he walked to the desk. The eyes of a boy in the back of the class started to twinkle. Mr. Osment got a book out of his briefcase and sat down at his desk. As soon as he did a loud fart sounded through the room. Stink Patterson burst out in a hilarious laugh. Everyone looked at him like he was crazy. His face dropped immediately.

“Come on guys, you have to admit that was funny! By the way, every new teacher needs to be initiated.” No one reacted. After a long silence it was Mr. Osment who spoke first.

“Aha Mr. Patterson…Ms. Stratmann told me everything about you and your practical jokes. You just earned some extra work.” Stink didn’t say another word for the remainder of the lesson. “Now…Ms. Stratmann told you about me, but I don’t know you all. That doesn’t matter. I’ll learn them as we go along. Let’s start with something easy. How do you change a sine function into a cosine function?” All students groaned. This was his idea of easy? Mr. Osment looked around the classroom for a familiar face. Then he looked to someone in particular.

“Alicia!” Shirley thought.

“Ms. Gianelli?”

“All sine and cosine functions can be changed into one another by adjusting the amplitude, the period and the shift, so…”

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 3: THE PLOT TURNS…

The whole lesson Shirley had been wondering how Mr. Osment knew Alicia. She wasn’t usually someone who threw wild conspiracy theories around. But it was very well possible Osment was hired by Moreno to kidnap Alicia. Teaching would just be a convenient cover. She had to check it out for Alicia’s sake. But questioning Osment would probably alarm him, so she decided to ask Alicia a few questions. The buzzer rudely disturbed her thoughts. Their class was over and it was time for lunch. When everyone left, Shirley saw how Mr. Osment called Stink to him and started a lecture about adulthood.

***********

A few minutes later Shirley, Bo, Bart and Alicia were having lunch in the school cafeteria. They were having a great time together. That time was ruined when Molly Hardy came by. She was looking mad. Against her will Shirley looked up from her plate. “I’m sick and tired of your detective games, Holmes. Everyone knows I’m the smartest her at Sussex, so I’d like to challenge you.” Shirley continued listening with more interest. “We both investigate the first mystery that comes along. Whoever figures it out first wins and puts the other one is out of business.” Molly explained smiling evilly. Bo’s eyes grew wider.

“You don’t need to do this, Shirley. You don’t have to prove anything.” he said.

“Shut up, Sawchuck!” Molly snarled. “Well Holmes…are you IN or OUT?” Shirley kept silent for a moment.

“Count me in. I can use an extra challenge. It boosts the performance. I just hope you are a match for me.” she answered. Molly walked away triumphantly. Shirley turned back to her previous conversation.

“What did you do that for?” Bo asked. “She’ll probably fake something and pretend she solved it.”

“Maybe, but I’m sure I could prove that. I solved all cases I ever investigated. I’m not planning to change that.” Shirley responded. Suddenly Alicia hit her forehead. “What’s up?” Shirley informed.

“I just remember I left the book I need for chemistry in my dorm. It contains all my notes. I have to get it.” Alicia explained. Alicia was about to leave as Bart spoke.

“I’ll come with you. I still need to borrow that book on ancient Indian rituals you have.” he said. They both left for Alicia’s dorm leaving Shirley and Bo alone at the table. Two small lovebirds in a huge crowd. They looked into each other’s eyes not knowing what the other really thought of them. Would Bo tell her if he loved her? Shirley couldn’t tell.

“Bo?” Shirley asked after a long pause. “You should be totally honest with each other when you’re in a relationship, right?” Bo started to blush. Why was she talking about a relationship?

“What do you mean?” he asked as innocently as he could.

“Well, uhh… Friends shouldn’t lie to each other, right?” Shirley rephrased.

“Right!” Bo agreed. Even though Shirley was Bo’s best friend this tiny conversation had embarrassed him. He wasn’t comfortable with it. Not at all. He felt somehow like Mr. Osment in his tuxedo. Suddenly he remembered something else. “I left my report on that analytical chemistry experiment in my dorm. I have to get it. It’s due today.” Shirley smiled.

“I’ll walk you there.” she offered. They walked up the stairs to the boy’s dormitories. When they passed the girl’s dorms they heard a bone-chilling scream. They looked at each other for a moment and simultaneously sped towards the place the scream had come from. When they turned the corner to the hallway Alicia’s room was in they got the fright of their lives. Just outside the door of Alicia’s room there was someone wearing a scream-like mask and a long black cape. It covered the whole person so it was impossible to identify him. Bo and Shirley froze on their places. Since they were upstairs, they were up there all alone. All the others were having lunch, either outside or in the cafeteria. The black-dressed person had a struggling Alicia captured in his left arm. With the other hand he took a voice distorter from a hidden pocket in his clothes and held it near his mouth. Then he spoke.

“STOP! If you don’t something bad might happen to Ms. Gianelli too soon.” a metallic sound from the device sounded. Shirley remembered Bart went with Alicia.

“Where is Bart?” she demanded.

“He is just fine as long as you do as I say.” the person said. “As soon as I get the cash Ms. Gianelli is free to go.” Bo had been standing on his spot for several minutes without moving so much as a muscle. Now he had decided that would change. He sped towards the masked creep. But he shoved him aside and used something on a handkerchief to drug Alicia. Alicia immediately slumped over his arm. “HURRY! Get me a CAR or she’ll DIE! Shirley quickly helped Bo up. They both ran downstairs.

“What should we do?” Shirley asked Bo out of her breath.

“Ms. Stratmann! She has a car.” Bo replied almost immediately. They ran towards the office of Ms. Stratmann and found it empty. That was weird, but not weird enough to slow down. After rumbling through some drawers they found what they came for and sped back upstairs. The whole thing took them about 4 minutes.

When they turned the corner for the second time that day the creep ordered them to stop again. “Drop the keys and back up. I have a gun and I’ll use it if I have to.” the voice said. Shirley obeyed and shoved the keys over the floor to the person-in-black. “Now BACK UP!” he screamed. Slowly they all moved downstairs to the parking area where the car was parked. The mysterious person carrying, or rather dragging Alicia with him still threatened them with the gun. Alicia didn’t move at all. She hung lifelessly in the arms of the kidnapper. When they reached the parking lot he ordered Bo and Shirley to back up some more as he entered the vehicle, throwing Alicia in the passenger’s seat. Then he had a minor setback in his plan. The car wouldn’t start. Still threatening with his gun he got back out and ran towards the nearest house. When he got a head start that was big enough he threw away the gun. He opened the door of a garage and entered it, closing the door after him. He was trapped! Shirley and Bo had followed the kidnapper and saw him taking Alicia into the garage. She circled the building making sure there was only one way out. Quickly she ran to the door of the house the building belonged to and rang the doorbell. No one answered.

“Come ON!” Shirley said impatiently, while she slammed at the door. Suddenly a man came from the back of the garage. It was a man in his late 20’s wearing some jeans and a shirt and some gloves. Obviously he had been gardening.

“What’s going on here?” he asked. He looked at Shirley. “Who are you?”

“No time to explain. A kidnapper took a girl into your garage!” Shirley yelled out of breath. The man frowned. “Hurry! DO something.” The man came with her and took the electric opening device from his pocket. A few moments later the garage slowly opened. The sunlight slowly entered the inside of the room. Inside there were just a few things. There was workbench in the back with some pots of paint on the shelves above it. On the bench itself there was a toolkit. On the other side of the room there was a hatstand. In the middle of the room lay a taped up Alicia. She couldn’t move a single muscle since she had been taped at her feet, her hands and her eyes. The owner of the garage immediately called the police. Besides Alicia on the floor, there was the disguise the kidnapper had worn. The kidnapper, however it was, had vanished into thin air…

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 4: THE INVESTIGATION STARTS…

Bo’s jaw dropped. “This is impossible! He was just here!” Shirley’s eyes grew. “This can’t be.” This was a mystery.

“Well, it just happened, Bo, so I guess it is possible. Only question now is HOW.” They quickly walked over to Alicia and freed her of all the tape she was wrapped in. When Bo removed the final piece of tape from Alicia’s eyes and mouth she sighed. She almost hyperventilated.

“What happened? I remember blacking out. I thought I’d choke!” she said. She rubbed her forehead. “Ouch I’ve got a splitting headache. I feel terrible.” Shirley wasn’t listening. She examined every square inch of the room. It was obvious. There were no places to hide.

Bo was puzzled for a moment. “Why did he threw away the gun? Didn’t he need it?” Shirley frowned.

“I don’t know…” she said. “I’ll find out…You take care of Alicia.” Leaving Alicia in care of Bo, Shirley returned to the place where the kidnapper threw his gun into the high grass. What she would give for a metal detector right now. She rolled the events of the early afternoon over and over again to pinpoint the exact spot the masked guy dropped the gun. Suddenly Shirley remembered. She went a little bit back where she had come from. She pulled a pencil out of her pocket and ducked to the floor to emerge from the grass holding the gun. “Well, that’s one problem solved…” she murmured to herself. Then she returned to the garage.

***********

Bo and Alicia were talking to each other when Shirley entered the garage. “Did you find it?” Bo asked.

“Yes I did.” Shirley smiled triumphantly. “And I know why he ditched it. It’s fake. If he planned to disappear in here, he didn’t want the police to find a fake gun to connect him to the crime.” She turned to the Ghostface disguise lying on the floor next to Alicia. It was like it should be: a long black robe and a ghostly mask. She took a set of latex gloves out of her pocket and examined the clothing. There was only a little rip in the costume. It was barely seeable with the naked eye. Shirley put it back and walked to the toolkit and opened it. It contained regular tools: hammers, nails, screwdrivers and saws. They were all latest models. Shirley encountered advertisements on the Internet. All the stuff would make a Tim Taylor or Al Borland fan grunt of excitement. But a kidnapper couldn’t use any of it to walk through a brick wall. He wouldn’t be able to close the kit and put all the stuff back anyway. Shirley noticed every single tool was in its assigned place. She was about to open the paint cans as a siren approached. She quickly went over to Alicia and Bo. The man that owned the place led the police officer in charge into the garage.

“YOU!!!!???” Detective Tremain was very unpleasantly surprised to see Shirley at a crime scene. “Are you kids trying to pull my leg here?”

“No,” Alicia said, “Trust me, someone tried to kidnap me.”

“SO? Where is he?” Tremain jeered at them.

“He disappeared out of this garage when the door was closed.” Shirley explained to him.

“Oh, PLEASE. Don’t give me rubbish. That is impossible!” Tremain yelled. Shirley took out the fake gun.

“He threatened us with this.” she continued her explanation. Tremain took the gun from Shirley and looked at it.

“This is a fake gun and very bad fake too. I’m not falling for this little scam. I’ve seen enough. Goodbye!” He pocketed the gun and left before Shirley could object.

“What a grouch” Bo whispered to Alicia. Shirley watched the man leave with HER evidence. It could have contained precious fingerprints that were now lost forever. She took the Ghostface disguise and was about to leave as she noticed something under the workbench. She went over there and found a cardboard cylinder of about 4 inches wide and a diameter of about 6 inches. She thought about it for a moment, until she remembered something else. What had happened to Bart?

They helped Alicia up and returned to her room at Sussex Academy, after Bo explained the situation to Ms. Stratmann. They found Bart stretched on the floor with a bump on the back of his head. By the looks of it he had been out for the past hour. After Bo patted him softly on the cheek several times Bart came to. He moaned. “Ouch, what hit me?” he asked.

“A kidnapper, someone kidnapped Alicia after knocking you out.” Shirley said. She walked across the room and tried to absorb her surroundings like a sponge. Bart panicked. “WHAT! Where is she?” he demanded. “She’s fine…” Shirley responded. Somehow she felt Bart felt more for Alicia than he wanted to admit.

“He went into a garage carrying Alicia and just a few minutes later he was gone.” Bo completed Shirley’s explanation. “That’s nuts.” Bart said. “That’s physically impossible.” Shirley walked to the bookcase. Alicia had a wide variety of books in it. On the top shelf there were romantic novels. Just the sort of book you’d expect a girl mad about boys to read. The next shelf contained stuff on ancient Indian rituals and other Indian stuff. The final shelf contained schoolbooks. Shirley moved her finger against the back of the books. “English literature, Cell Biology, Latin, second grade Mathematics…” she mumbled. “That’s interesting! No chemistry book.”

“Maybe it was a shape shifter. He could have change in that few minutes, so you’d never notice him.” Bart pleaded. He was well-known for his beliefs in the paranormal. And somehow they seemed to fit in this case. But Shirley was persistent. She WAS going to find a rational explanation. She just had to.

**********

“So what do you think, Shirley?” Bo asked her that night in the attic. Shirley scratched her chin thoughtfully and spoke while she looked at the portrait of her famous ancestor Sherlock Holmes.

“The way that I see it, it’s some sort of elaborate magic trick and it’s a bloody good one.”

“Suspects?” Bo asked.

“Well to find the suspects you have to find means, motive and opportunity.” she lectured Bo. “So our first suspect must be Edward Longstone.” she went on. “He…”

“Wait a second. I don’t know anyone named Edward Longstone. Who is he?” Bo asked.

“Remember when we were at the house. I looked at the tag near the bell. It’s the guy who owns the garage. He has the means and the opportunity. He was just there when the kidnapper went missing. He had the opportunity. By the way, he if he owned the place he had the means as well and escaping from his own garage wouldn’t be much of a problem. That only leaves us with the motive. To find one will take some time.” She paused for a moment arranging her thoughts. “Then there’s Molly of course. After some digging she might have find out how to pull such a trick. She could have gone anywhere after she met us during lunch, including the dorms. And for a motive…Just seeing me struggle to solve it will be a pleasure for her.” Bo interrupted her.

“Maybe it was that gangster Joe Moreno.” he suggested.

“I don’t think so Bo. A professional gangster wouldn’t use a fake gun. And if he would want to get away he’d surely wouldn’t do it in such a complicated way. He would have had a car of his own in the parking lot.” Shirley said. She looked at the portrait of her great grand uncle for a moment. It was like something bothered her.

“What’s wrong?” Bo asked her. Shirley hesitated.

“Her chemistry book wasn’t in her room. She lied about it. I don’t understand why she would do such a thing.” she finally said.

“Anyone could have taken her book.” Bo pointed out.

“Yeah, but why kidnap Alicia in such a complicated manner?” Shirley replied. It was silent for a moment before Shirley proceeded. “There is only one person who knows…There are some suspects I should talk to… tomorrow.” Bo greeted Shirley and left for home.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 5: THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES…

It was Tuesday morning and it had rained during the night. Shirley slammed her hand down on her alarm clock stopping the alarm and shrugged. If the kidnapper had left any footprints near the crime scene they’d probably be gone by now. She should have checked for prints when she had the change. Shirley got up and sat on the edge of her bed for a moment. There were several things running through her mind at that moment. She was wondering who’d kidnap Alicia. If it wasn’t that convict - she was quite sure it wasn’t – it could have been practically everyone else. She walked over to the window and looked out for a moment. Large pools of water were covering the roads of Redington. She decided she’d spent the day checking for motives and alibis. She walked over to the bathroom, entered the door and closed it behind her.

********

A man in a red Ford pulled up at the large Victorian House at the edge of Redington. He pulled out a pair of binoculars and placed a cellular phone on the dashboard in front of him. Just at the same moment a large shiny Black Sedan pulled in the driveway of the house. The man put the binoculars to his eyes. He saw how a man in a black suit and white gloves, probably the driver, opened the back door and how a family exited the car. The man that exited the car was pretty large. He wore a spotless black suit and shine black shoes. He was strong build with brown, curly hair and blue eyes. The woman that exited after him was a beautiful tall blonde, also with blue eyes. She wore a short, stylish red dress and red high heels. After them simultaneous two children squeezed through the door out of the car. By the looks of it they were around 15 and 10 years old. The oldest one was wearing black pants with a white shirt on top of it. His green eyes absorbed his surroundings unaware if the red Ford. The youngest one looked at the place in amazement. His blond hair swirled around his head as he looked around in excitement. He wore a checkered shirt with red and black spaces. When the people had admired the front lawn of the huge place the entered the house. The driver instructed arriving trucks of the ‘Move-it’ company where to go. Apparently they were moving. The man smiled as he put down the binoculars and picked up the cellphone. He dialed another mobile number. Another man answered the phone.

“Yes?” the person anxiously asked.

“They’re here…” he announced, looking down at some files in the drivers seat. The files contained information on every single person that he saw entering the house. “You’ll have it soon.” He turned off the phone and drove off back to the center of Redington.

********

“You’re what?” Bo almost yelled in amazement.

“I’m going to trick Mr. Osment in giving me some info.” Shirley stated with a smile.

“Shirley,” Bo said, “There’s a fine line between genius and madness.”

“So?”

“You’ve just crossed that line…” Bo got THE glare from Shirley and sighed. “OK…OK maybe it’s not that serious.”

Shirley just continued “Trust me, it will work, it worked before, hasn’t it?” In a safe corner of a Sussex Academy hallway, Shirley put on the wig and some other weird clothes. Clothes even she would never wear under normal circumstances. She put the files, she had gathered at home under her right arm. “How do I look?” she asked Bo, not hoping for a fair answer.

“Great,” Bo said, suppressing a big laugh, “even your own father couldn’t recognize you.”

While straightening her collar she walked down the hallway towards the room Mr. Osment was supposed to be in. She was a little disappointed not to find him here. She was about to turn back when Mr. Osment entered the room a little bit out of breath.
“Oh, hi there…what can I do for you?” he asked Shirley.

“Hello, I’m Irma Felton, Ms. Stratmann’s assistant. I’m afraid there has been a mistake in administration. Can you give me some information again?” She said without even a twitch in a high-pitched voice.

“I suppose I can, what do you need to know?” Mr. Osment asked. Shirley put her files down, while Mr. Osment sat down at his desk.

“Full name and date of birth, please.” Shirley proceeded, taking a pen out of her pocket along with her notebook.

“David Jonathan Osment born in Perth Australia on June the fifth 1967, anything else?” he said quickly. Shirley finished writing soon after.

“Yes, previous jobs?” she asked.

“I worked at the University of Sydney, the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and at the University of Paris as mathematics professor, after I graduated in Sydney. That’s how I met Mr. Gianelli.” Mr. Osment spoke. Shirley’s face brightened. This conversation was going the right way.

“Did you like him?” Shirley asked.

“Oh, sure! He was a really nice guy. Pity he stopped his mathematics study.”

“Ever met Gianelli’s daughter? She attends Sussex.” Shirley posed.

“Yes. I came round when she was about five. I guessed she was the girl in my class yesterday. That’s why I asked her to answer my first question. There are not that many Gianelli’s around, you know.” he explained.

“That was about it, I think.” Shirley concluded. She put her pen and notebook away, grabbed the folders and turned round to go outside.

“Wait!” Mr. Osment said. “You seem familiar. Do I know you?” Shirley was about to blush.

“No. I don’t think so.” she said as she made a quick exit. That was too close, she thought when she returned to Bo and got rid of the disguise.

“And?” Bo asked.

“It was very interesting.” Shirley answered mysteriously. It was obvious someone was lying. Mrs. Stratmann had told on Osment’s first lesson he thought at some of the finest boarding schools in the world, but he told me he only worked at Universities. “Something’s fishy, Bo and for once it’s not you.” She grinned. Bo could appreciate the joke. It would be another long, not-funny day. Jokes were the only things that could brighten up their day. The buzzer sounded and all students went to their classes.

********

At lunchtime Shirley was accompanied at a table by her friend Bo, Bart and Alicia. She just took a bite out of her peanut and blue cheese sandwich when Bart asked her a question. “So, Shirley cracked the case yet?” Shirley put her sandwich down and looked at Bart.

“No…no…not yet.” she stuttered while she was somewhere deep in her thoughts. She was roughly pulled out them by a voice, which was all too familiar.

“Hey Holmes, what do I hear now? Solving the case without me? You know it, right, the first one to solve it puts the other one out of business.” Molly Hardy sneered. Shirley and her friends gave her a petrifying glance that made Molly leave in a hurry.

“At least she didn’t stage it.” Shirley noted. “If she had I would have been toast by now.”

“What do you plan to do now?” Alicia asked her. Shirley thought for a minute.

“I think I’ll have a reconstruction this afternoon.” Shirley murmured.

“No way!” Alicia shot back. “No way I’m going back to that dorm. I’m scared.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be with you.” Bo reassured her.

“Well OK” Alicia said reluctantly. The buzzer sounded and the friends made their way the Mr. Howie’s history class.

*********

“Isn’t this great Lloyd?” Rebecca said while they walked down the stairs of their newly bought Victorian house at the edge of Redington. “I mean, I got a terrific job at the laboratory and I’m sure the kids will make a lot of friends here and you can hide from the press for awhile.” she reassured her husband when they reached the ground floor again.

“Are you sure? I’m getting second thoughts, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to take the kids away from their friends just like that.” Lloyd Brisbane said with concern. The dog, named Jewel, that was led into the house came to him and lay down at his feet. At the same time they heard the sound of running footsteps upstairs.

“Hear the kids, look at the dog…it’s fine trust me.” she said. Lloyd hesitated for a moment, but finally gave her a smile.

“OK. Let’s take a look at the dining room.” They took off followed by the dog.

********

In the mean time Jeffrey was chasing his little brother Mark upstairs. It was a huge house and there were many places tot turn. But Mark stood no change. Finally Jeffrey got the better of him, he caught up with him, grabbed him and gently shoved him against the wall. He took his hands of his brother. Slowly Marks eyes followed the eyes of his big brother down to his hands. “Caught you!” Jeffrey signed in one flowing motion. Then he took of into the opposite direction they came from, leaving his little brother Mark with the impossible task to catch him.

********

When the buzzer sounded Shirley and her friends made their way to the hallway Alicia’s dorm was situated. “So…” she said. “Bart, do you remember what happened now?” Shirley asked, while she took a pen and a notebook out of her bag. “Do exactly what you did yesterday, so I know the exact order of events.” she said. Bart started off.

“Well, Alicia and I came round the corner…” He did as he said. “When we came to the door she told me to wait outside, she’d be in for just a moment.” Alicia nodded in agreement. “She went in, but it took her longer than I thought it would, so I knocked on the door.” Bart proceeded. They both did as Bart told. Shirley jotted everything down. “I got worried when she didn’t answer, so I went in. I saw Alicia was captured by a person in a Scream costume. The guy’s hand covered her mouth so she couldn’t yell. Then the guy knocked me down…” “And took me outside.” Alicia went on. “I kicked him in the shins and got the chance to scream. You know the rest of the story.” Shirley finished writing seconds later.

“What about the chemistry book you came for?” Shirley asked Alicia.

“I made a mistake it was in my bag after all. Silly, isn’t it?”

“Well, that wraps it up for today.” Shirley said. “See you tomorrow guys.” She left in deep thoughts. Her friends were still wondering what had been the sense of all this. They were clueless, so they left for home.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 6: WHEN IN DOUBT…

When Shirley got downstairs on Wednesday morning, her father was already there, reading the newspaper. Robert Holmes looked up from his paper and greeted his daughter. “Hi, Shirley. Nervous for your birthday next Sunday?” Shirley got to the kitchen sink and placed a plate on it.

“Nope. I’m sure it’s going to be great!” she said in a hyper way that was more fit for Alicia. She prepared 4 sandwiches and sat down opposite to her father. It was silent for a moment before someone spoke again. Robert thought about how he should choose his words.

“Oh I’m sure, Bo is going to be there…” Robert teased her, while he turned back to his paper.

“Daaaa-d! Bo and I are just friends, you know that!” she replied as usual. Robert smiled.

Shirley got back to her mystery. The reconstruction had proven nothing, apart from Alicia’s mistake about the book. That left Shirley with only two forensic clues, the costume with the missing thread and the cardboard cylinder. She wondered why the kidnapper had left his disguise. Without a disguise the risk of being exposed must have been too big. And for the cardboard cylinder… It could just be a coincidence it was there, but she doubted it. Everything else was well organized and the change for just one thing to lay on the ground by coincidence was, in her eyes, too small. Everything happens for a reason anyway.

Any mystery devised by mortal minds can be solved therewith…

Could it be this wasn’t a mystery devised by a mortal mind. No. She quickly pushed the idea out of her head. “When in doubt always return to the crime scene.” Shirley reminded herself. She’d stop by on the way to school. Then she went on to the list of suspects that was shorter than before. David Osment was definitely her prime suspect. He had lied, he knew Alicia, but still there was no motive. She still had to find out about that. Although he had only means and a (questionable) opportunity, Edward Longstone was still another considerable suspect. As far as she knew that was it at the moment. A talk to Mr. Gianelli, might shed some new light on the case, as far as the motives were concerned. While she finished her last sandwich, she took her bag and walked out the door, still thinking about this weird event.

********
Half an hour later she reached the Longstone residence. Asking Edward Longstone to let her in probably wasn’t a good idea. It would expose her and anonymity worked just fine for her. Questioning David Osment had been dangerous enough. She decided to pick the lock of the garage door. Carefully she went over to the garage and took her lock picking kit out of her backpack. It took her around 15 minutes to pick the lock. It was obvious no one could have done that any sooner. The kidnapper had to have left another way. She closed the door behind her and started to look for evidence. The room was pretty much like it had been two days ago. With the only difference, that there was no Alicia and costume in there. Shirley walked along the sides of the room. It had the same sizes as the outside. There was no space for hidden rooms. Suddenly her attention was drawn to the paint cans in the far right corner. She walked over to them, while she put on a new set of latex gloves so she wouldn’t disturb any fingerprints. She took the first can that came to hand and carefully opened it. Apparently it looked empty, apart from some marks of red paint. But when she took a closer look, she found crumbs of a white substance, which was yet unidentified. She took a small plastic evidence bag out of her backpack and put the crumbs in it, so she could examine it later at home. She closed the can and placed it on the shelf where she found it. Then she moved her attention to the floor hoping there was more evidence. She didn’t notice the garage door was open and she also didn’t notice Mr. Longstone.

“WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING HERE!” he yelled in anger. Shirley was startled by Mr. Longstone’s appearance, but fortunately she had an excuse ready. “I SHOULD CALL THE POLICE!”

“No! Please,” she said innocently, “I just came to look for the ring I lost here two days ago.” She secretly palmed a ring from her pocket. She acted to find it somewhere out of his field of vision. “Oh! Here it is!” She showed the ring to Mr. Longstone and slowly got up from the floor. She figured it was best to leave before he lost his temper. With a wide bow she circled him and left the premises. Quickly she continued her way to Sussex Academy. Lessons would start in 5 minutes and she thought lessons were much more fun than explaining her presence in someone else’s house.

When Shirley was out of sight Edward went back into his house and dialed a phone number somewhere within Redington. His call was answered.

“Hello, Holmes sneaked around my garage a few minutes ago…what do I do?” he asked the person on the other side of the line. When he had gotten his instructions he placed the receiver back where he got it from. “Everything is just fine.” he reassured himself. “You can do this. It is not that hard…” Even though he was shivering all over his body. He just seemed to be excited. He suddenly seemed much surer of himself. He started an evil grin. “It’s not hard at all…”

********

When the buzzer sounded just before lunchtime Shirley took Bo to a quiet corner of Sussex Academy. Bo wasn’t always bright, but had some good ideas on several occasions. Actually Bo was a little like Watson, an irreplaceable assistant to Holmes. Shirley wanted to tell Bo about what she had found that morning and she wondered what Bo’s thoughts were. She was about to ask him when he spoke.

“So what’s this all about Shirley? You pulling me away to some quiet place is what blows rumors to life.” he said with an annoyed look upon his face. Shirley ignored his remark.

“There has been a major breakthrough in the case.” she said with limitless enthusiasm. She didn’t wait for Bo to ask her what it was, she just explained.

“I went back to the garage of Mr. Longstone this morning and I found some more evidence.” she went on. Bo’s face cleared and he seemed to get interested in the conversation.
“So? Tell me!” Bo demanded.

“I was right. The kidnapper left another clue at the crime scene. You remember that I was interrupted when I wanted to open the paint cans? Obviously something has been in there! I found some crumbs of a compound that definitely shouldn’t be in a paint can. I just have to find a way to get it analyzed. She wondered how she could do that. But anything would be better than handing it to Tremain. Tremain would probably just take the evidence and lock it up.” “I know that Longstone is involved somehow, but he must have an accomplice. He couldn’t have gotten out of the garage after tying Alicia up within 5 minutes and greet us just after that.”

“But you can’t catch the accomplice just like that.” Bo said. “You would have to use the evidence to prove someone was involved.” Suddenly Shirley’s eyes twinkled. “Oh no, not that look again. It always gets us in trouble.” Shirley didn’t listen to Bo and left for Mr. Longstone’s house. Reluctantly Bo followed. He saved her from many stupid acts and maybe he could do that again just now.

********

Carefully Shirley and Bo were sneaking along the hedge of Mr. Longstone’s garden. Since Shirley was fixated on getting into the house, she went through to the back garden. Several gardening tools were scattered around the garden, but no living soul was within sight. It was dead silent.

“What exactly and I mean what exactly are we doing here?” Bo whispered.

“If he had an accomplice, he must have contacted him this morning after he discovered me snooping around the garage.” Shirley explained. “The most logical way I can think of is phoning him. All we have to do is push the redial button.”

“WHA… What? Are you nuts? If he catches us we’re toast.” Bo almost yelled.

“You can always turn back…” Shirley countered. Bo shrugged. It was his job to make sure Shirley didn’t get hurt in her wild investigations, at least that was his own opinion. He shrugged and followed her. They carefully proceeded to the back door and Shirley picked it in record time. Slowly they opened the creaky door. When they heard the sound they quickly hid behind the wall. When they didn’t hear anything inside, they entered closing the door behind them. The found a neat and clean house. Books were neatly placed on shelves, papers were placed in orderly piles. While Shirley searched some papers, again with latex gloves, Bo went to look for a phone. Since Longstone spotted Shirley in the garage he figured it was best to search the ground floor first. He found the phone in a scary ordered and cleaned sitting room. It was a wireless thing with tiny buttons and an answering machine attached to it.

A few moments later he found Shirley again in the room he left her in. “Find anything?” Bo asked her. Shirley shook her head. “Well I do, may I show you the way to the phone?” Shirley followed him.

Shirley carefully examined the phone and pressed the play-button on the answering machine. “There are no new messages.” A metallic voice sounded. Shirley sighed. This was too good to be true. Now she started to feel very tense. The button she was about to push could hold vital information, but if it didn’t, she didn’t know what to make of the evidence. With another deep sigh she pushed the redial button on the phone and placed the receiver at her ear. “Hello, Molly Hardy speaking…” Quickly she replaced the receiver back on the central unit of the phone. Her eyes were staring at Bo.

“What is it, Shirley?” he asked with concern.

“He called Molly…” she gasped in amazement.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 7: AN UNPLEASENT SURPRISE…

A moment of total silence overwhelmed them. The little radars in Shirley’s mind began to work feverishly. What did that mean? Was Molly involved after all? There was only one way to find out. Suddenly the front door opened and Mr. Longstone came in. Swiftly Shirley disappeared again through the back door they came from. Leaving no visible evidence of their presence. Shirley and Bo hurried back to Sussex Academy. They directly moved on towards Molly’s room. Classes had stopped early.

“Why did we have to go back right away? If we’re caught we’re in big trouble.” Bo pointed out to the junior detective. Shirley just smiled as she started picking Molly’s lock.

“Don’t get caught then.” was her clever response. Bo sighed and nervously tapped his fingers on the wall. It seemed to take Shirley ages to pick the lock.

Inside, the powerful and evil Molly Hardy looked at her computer screen. The computer alter ego of the young sociopath had just entered a private chatroom. The rise and growth of Internet had given her infinite possibilities to use her power. Setting up a private chatroom was just one of the many things the Internet had to offer her. You could just download them from sites of Internet services. Suddenly the computer bleeped to announce a new arrival in the chatroom. She was joined by someone who named himself X.

Y> So when do I get my money?

X> As soon as I get what I want

Y> I don’t think you’re in the positions to make demands. I think I can get more money if I tip them of. Then you’ll be history. J

X> OK…When do we meet?

Just at the moment Molly was about to answer the question as she was surprised by a voice behind her.

“You should really close that door Molly…” Shirley said sarcastically. Molly spun round to face her. “I did…You probably just picked the lock or something. You’re too nosy for your own good. Molly didn’t know Bo was out of her sight, reading the conversation that took place in the chatroom. She felt something was wrong though, and turned to face Bo. She was about to turn the computer off to delete all records of the chatsession, but Shirley pushed her away from the desk towards Bo. He held her so Shirley could read what was on the screen.

“Interesting,” Shirley said after a minute, “care to tell me what it’s about?”

“That’s not of your business Holmes.” she sneered while she struggled to get loose from Bo’s grip. Shirley looked at the record Molly had in her computer on incoming phone calls. She didn’t have any coming from the same number Shirley had used that day. which meant she couldn’t have been the one Longstone talked to earlier. Someone must have tampered with the phone records. But again she could have done that herself.

Suddenly the door opened again to reveal Ms. Stratmann. “Molly, can you…?” She was abruptly stopped by what she saw. A rude invasion of someone’s privacy; Bo holding her favorite student in some sort of wrestling grip and Shirley reading something on her computer. They all looked up to Ms. Stratmann. Molly started to act as if she had to be pitied, but towards Bo she cracked an evil grin.

“I warned you two…” she whispered to Bo.

“Holmes, Sawchuck! Whatever you are doing, stop it this instant and meet me in detention!” she yelled. They both sighed and reluctantly followed the Headmistress downstairs, leaving a very content Molly.

********

“What do you have to say for yourselves?” she yelled at Shirley and Bo. “First you miss your afternoon classes and then you invade the privacy of another student!” Shirley wanted to speak, but Ms. Stratmann wouldn’t let her. Stratmann just continued. “You just sit here and think about what your actions have caused! And don’t even think about moving!” She left in a hurry to take care of some other business. When she had closed the door.

“GREAT…JUST GREAT!” Bo said sarcastically, with annoyed undertone in his voice.

“I said you could turn back.” Shirley remembered him. “Actually we should thank Stratmann for giving us this moment.” Shirley smiled, “This is how we first met, remember?” “Ah, please Shirley don’t get sentimental!” Bo said with an annoyed voice. Shirley listened to him and as a result of this, it was totally silent in the room for quite a while. Shirley had started thinking on the mysteries. Something she had been doing a lot more during this week. For once a case had totally stumped her. There was lots of evidence, but there was nothing proving anything conclusive about any of the suspects. Besides, by the looks of it, she probably wouldn’t be able to question Mr. Gianelli today. Ms. Stratmann was really angry. The room stayed silent until they could leave at 16:13. They said goodbye to each other and sped towards their homes, arriving just in time for an early dinner.

After dinner that night went up to the attic that served as a crime lab. She had done several tests on the crumbs she found in the garage. She wasn’t able to determine what they were. Even with every test in the book she couldn’t figure out what the stuff was. With the weird feeling she overlooked something Shirley fell to sleep.

********

The next day, Thursday that is, Shirley came out of bed relatively late. She quickly washed herself and got downstairs for a quick bite before running off to Sussex.

That morning, the only lesson scheduled was mathematics. Shirley couldn’t keep her head to it. She mostly thought about the kidnapping and all those goniometrical functions weren’t really that interesting. She managed to look interested and by a weird coincidence she didn’t have to answer any questions. Was Mr. Osment really involved and if so, how bad? Was it Molly with some elaborate plan again? She could have deleted her phone record. Or was it just Mr. Longstone. Shirley promised herself to talk to Mr. Gianelli that day no matter what. The buzzer sounded and the lesson was over. The students got a free period. The lessons would start again next Monday. Shirley walked out still thinking. Bo had just left seconds earlier and he seemed in a hurry. Shirley figured that if she wanted to inform him about her latest findings she’d better follow him fast. She only caught up with him at the fish shop. She entered and found Bo’s father behind the counter.

“So, what will it be young lady?” he grinned. Shirley rearranged her blue hat.

“I’d like to speak to Bo.” She replied.

“Sorry, we have to meet someone and were late.” he apologized. “Didn’t he tell you?” Then he turned to Bo. “HEY BO!!! HURRY UP! WE DON’T WANT TO KEEP YOUR UNCLE WAITING!” Bo came downstairs carefully and explained to his father why he had been late. The button of his pants had broken off and his pants were lying on his heels showing his boxershorts with hearts. Then he noticed Shirley. He was embarrassed instantaneously. Shirley couldn’t suppress a laugh.

“SHIRLEY! This is serious. If these pants won’t fit, I can’t go to the party. It is very fancy.” Bo defended himself.

“Use a belt.” Shirley suggested, “This is what they were made for.” Bo got upstairs to get a belt. He came back downstairs minutes later, wearing it. “It’s perfect!” Shirley praised him. “Have a great time.” “See you on Saturday.” Bo smiled. Shirley left with them and waited for Mr. Sawchuck to close up the store. When Bo and Mr. Sawchuck had driven off, she left, turning the other way to go back home.

********

She was halfway home when she noticed a boy sitting on a bench along the road. He was wearing blue jeans and a black T-shirt with the picture of a wolf on it. The boy seemed a little bit down. For some weird reason she stopped and went over to him.

“Is this seat taken?” she asked him. He looked up and she saw how a red edge had formed around his green eyes. Apparently she dragged him from some deep and sad thoughts.

“Oh no, you can sit down…” he said indifferently.

“So…I’m Shirley and I can’t help noticing you’re a bit down.” she said compassionately. She thought for a moment. “Was it that bad in Australia?” The boy looked at her in amazement.

“How…who…?” he uttered, trying to get an explanation. Shirley smiled.

“Your accent gave it away, it’s pretty strong!”

“What is your last name? Holmes or something?”

“Actually…yes it is.” The boy looked at her.

“You’re kidding me, right?”

“No, really! It’s true.” Shirley defended herself.

“Well, G’day Ms. Holmes…I, eh, I’m Jeffrey Brisbane. I’m from a little town near …”

“Sydney!” Shirley interrupted. “Sorry it’s a habit. I noticed your accent was south Australian. Please continue…”

“Anyway, you probably never heard of it…My parents moved here to avoid publicity, they never thought about my friends. They choose this place ‘cause it seemed pretty quiet. I’m sure nothing interesting ever happens here.”

“Wanna bet?” Shirley said under her breath.

“Huh?” Jeffrey managed to get out of his mouth.

“Never mind. Look I’m having my birthday party next Sunday. If you like you can come and make some new friends. ” Suddenly her eyes got wider. “Did you say Brisbane. You mean you’re…?”

“Sssssh, keep it down will you!? If everyone exactly knows who I am, we’ll be outta here in no time flat. Just call me Jeffrey.”

Shirley was surprised to have met the son of the greatest illusionist David Gold, or actually Lloyd Brisbane as his real name was, just by chance. She thought back to what Bo had said about the mystery. He literally had said “This is impossible!” Who better to do something impossible than the world’s for most illusionist. “How long have you been in town?” she asked Jeffrey. He thought for a moment. “That must have been Tuesday. I missed my favorite TV show for the move.” If this was true they couldn’t be involved.

“Hey Shirley,” Jeffrey said, while he stood up, breaking Shirley’s concentration, “want to meet my dad?”

********

Several minutes later Shirley and Jeffrey approached the gate to the huge Victorian House at the edge of Redington. Shirley couldn’t believe her eyes. * This is what they call a low profile? This must be the most expensive house in the Redington. * On the other side of the road a car pulled up to the curb. It was a red Ford. Shirley was too busy examining the house she didn’t notice it, Jeffrey didn’t see it either. The house was obviously very old. It was roughly about the size of Sussex Academy. And that was just for one family to live in. Finally she focused her attention on the gate and wondered how long it would take her to crack it. She didn’t get the change to try it. Jeffrey entered a code on a small keyboard on the right side of the gate. It didn’t open.

“Why doesn’t it open?” Shirley asked him.

“They probably want to know who you are. Dad doesn’t want to take any risks.” Jeffrey replied. He pushed a large gray button and told a voice it was OK to open the gate. A few seconds later it opened and gave way to Shirley and Jeffrey. They walked in and the gate closed immediately behind them. Shirley still couldn’t believe she actually was on land owned by Lloyd Brisbane. She was obsessed with solving mysteries, but the illusions Lloyd could create weren’t the mysteries she wanted to solve. They weren’t meant to be solved. She looked up at the blue sky. There wasn’t a cloud in sight. “C’mon Shirley, the cars haven’t arrived yet, so we have quite a walk ahead.” Jeffrey smiled. Shirley looked towards and started estimating the distance. “It’s larger than your usual front lawn!” Jeffrey said as if he’d read her mind.

“Let’s go then.” Shirley said as she started a firm pace. For some weird reason she stopped and looked back. She saw a red Ford on the other side of the road. It started to roar and drove off as soon as she had turned. She quickly turned back and followed Jeffrey to the house.

********

Meanwhile the man in the car grabbed his cellphone. He dialed the same number he dialed previously.
“We’ve got a problem. Someone spotted me just now.” The person on the other side of the line spoke for a moment. “That’s a major problem, because I happen to know who the kid is…” The other person seemed to humiliate him. His face showed different angry emotions before he yelled his answer. “YES! IT IS A KID! A nosy one by the name of Holmes!” Again it was silent. “NO! Of course I’m not kidding!” Then the line went dead. The man threw his mobile phone on the passenger’s seat while exclaiming some profound word. The phone landed on a file on Shirley Holmes.

********

“This is the hall and there are doors towards the dining room, the kitchen, the billiard room and the sitting room.” Jeffrey showed Shirley. A boy, Shirley estimated to be 10 years old, came rumbling down the stairs.
“And this is my little brother Mark.” Jeffrey finished.

“Hello, Mark!” Shirley said. Mark didn’t react.

“He can’t hear you. He’s deaf.” Jeffrey explained.

“Sorry,” Shirley signed to Mark, “I’m Shirley. How are you?”. Mark returned a sign Shirley didn’t understand. She looked at Jeffrey with a frown on her face.

“That means he’s terrific. He just has his own sign for that. You sign? You surprise me more every minute.” Jeffrey responded. Shirley smiled while she signed something else to Mark. It must have been funny, because both Mark and Jeffrey exploded into an enormous laugh.

“What?” Shirley asked. “You just said you’re a rotten tomato…” Jeffrey barely managed to say.

“So my signing is a little bit rusty.” she shrugged. Suddenly two pairs of footsteps came down from the stairs.

“Well, well, who do we have here?” a voice said. Shirley recognized it as Mr. Brisbane’s. He was accompanied by what Shirley assumed was his wife.

“This is Shirley Holmes,” Jeffrey introduced her to his parents, “my first friend I got here!” he emphasized. Shirley smiled and offered Lloyd and Rebecca her hand. They accepted.

“I’m delighted to meet you Mr. Brisbane, Mrs. Brisbane.” she politely said.

“Just call us Lloyd and Rebecca. I’m just as delighted to meet you.” Mr. Brisbane said, throwing a fierce look at his oldest son. “Although some people tend to forget the rules!” he snarled. Jeffrey looked very uncomfortable with this.

“Don’t worry about your privacy.” Shirley said, “I won’t tell anyone you’re here. You can trust me.”

“A detective’s word of honor, right?” Lloyd asked. Shirley shrugged, she felt exposed. Lloyd noticed it.
“Let me guess…I’m wrong, your not descendant of the famous Sherlock Holmes?” he said. Shirley smiled.

“No, you are right, but that’s my secret.”

“OK! Then we understand each other. You don’t spill our secret, we don’t spill yours.” Lloyd sighed. “Care to see my new illusion?” Shirley’s eyes widened and her mood brightened. She couldn’t believe she was just invited for a private magic trick by a world-renounced illusionist. Lloyd nodded and with a flash the kids rushed to the other side of the hallway. With a slow and gentle pace the parents followed.

TO BE CONTINUED

PART 8: A PLEASANT SURPRISE

The kids quickly entered the parlor and sat down at the huge leather couch at the far end of the room. Shirley looked around the room. It was a lust for the eye to see the mixture of entirely different styles. At the left of the room there was a large window with a view of the front lawn. She saw the freshly mown lawn and in the far distance she could get a glimpse of the gate. Stylish curtains were dropped around the window. By the looks of it they were Hungarian and hand-made. At the end of the room opposite to the window there was a large bookcase along the entire wall. It contained mostly encyclopedias and dictionaries. Shirley knew because of the covers. She also noticed the Persian rug on the floor, which almost extended to every side of the room. In front of the leather couch was a beautiful glass table in a wavy shape. Then she turned to Jeffrey.

“Does your dad do that all the time, I mean show you a new trick?” she asked him with genuine interest. Jeffrey smiled. Mark also did. He started to know how to read Shirley’s lips.

“Sometimes…It’s one of the best things about him.” he answered. Then he paused for a minute and turned serious. “But I just hate him being worried about us.” he said with a sad voice. Then his parents entered the room and his face immediately cleared. Shirley didn’t know if it was for real or just an act. A large dog joined them and sat down next to Shirley’s feet. “That’s Jewel.” Mark signed in explanation. “I’ve got a dog too, a basset hound, his name is Watson.” Jeffrey cracked a laugh. “He’s your sidekick?” he joked. Shirley laughed at the remark. “No, that would be Bo!” “Is he your boyfriend?” Jeffrey asked. “No…he’s just my best friend.” Shirley responded. “I thought you just moved in.” she said. “We did!” Jeffrey responded. “This room is already finished because we brought that stuff ourselves.” He smiled at Shirley. Feeling a weird sensation in his stomach. He was all dreamy. Mark poked him in the side and shot him some teasing remarks Shirley didn’t understand.

At the same moment Rebecca walked over to a stereo system and started some eerie music. Lloyd ushered the children to come closer to him. They were standing by an ordinary round, wooden coffee table. Well, it wasn’t that ordinary. The carvings showed the table was built in China in the 18th century and that it was very valuable. Then Lloyd started to speak with a scary and deep voice.

“During the centuries that has passed, many people passed on to the other side, leaving loved ones with many questions.” Shirley thought about how she missed her mother. “Sometimes communication is possible, ‘cause they didn’t leave entirely as I will demonstrate today.” Shirley’s eyes twinkled. This was something Bart should have seen. It was just up his alley. “Sometimes spirits leave their energy to perform acts only a few have ever witnessed.” The music got more dramatic and was joined by the sound of thunder. “But today you will all witness something unbelievable.” He told them to examine the coffee table. There was nothing weird about it. Then they all laid their hands on the table and Lloyd entered a trance. The crashes of thunder overcame the music and by the time the third crash sounded, it happened. With their hands still on top of it the table raised from the floor. Lloyd got out of the trance and smiled across the table to Shirley. The table was floating. It also moved sideways, sometimes pushing Shirley backwards. Then the table reached the point Mark could no longer reach to touch the top. “You can let go now, Mark.” Lloyd said. “Now, walk underneath it.” Lloyd suggested to his youngest son. Mark read his father’s lips carefully and obeyed to everything he said. Shirley couldn’t believe her own eyes. Here she was witnessing something impossible for the second time in a week. The music slowly became peaceful again and the table slowly moved back into its original position. The table touched the floor as soon as the music ended. Rebecca walked back to the stereo system and turned it off. Shirley gasped.

“Wow! I can’t believe you actually did that…there must be wires. It just has to be.”

Lloyd smiled “Check it out. You won’t find anything. It took me 3 years to perfect that illusion.” He was right. Shirley couldn’t find anything that seemed even slightly out of place or weird about the table. She kept thinking, but eventually struck a dead end.

“Lloyd, can I ask you something?” she asked after several minutes in silence. In the mean time Rebecca had brought in some tea. They all sat down at the glass table in the center of the room. Lloyd smiled at Shirley again. “As long as it isn’t about the coffee table.” he answered.

“Someone tried to kidnap a friend of mine last Monday and the police isn’t doing anything, because they didn’t believe the kidnapper left a entirely sealed off garage in less than 10 minutes. Is it possible to do that with some kind of trick?” Shirley explained and asked at the same time.

Jeffrey raised his eyebrows, but no one noticed. “Well, I didn’t try something like that, but if you take some time and …” Lloyd started. TIME! Shirley looked at her watch. It was 4 o’ clock and she had to be home by six and she still had to visit Mr. Gianelli. “Sorry,” Shirley interrupted, “I forgot an appointment.” She got up hastily and made her way to the front door after saying goodbye and thanking them all for their hospitality. “Wait!” Jeffrey said, “I’ll walk you to the front gate.” Mr. and Mrs. Brisbane smiled, waving Shirley goodbye. They felt like this wasn’t the last they’d see of her. During the past 15 years they created a sort of sixth sense that told them when their oldest son liked someone. This was someone he liked.

Five minutes later Jeffrey and Shirley reached the front gate. A red car passed in the street. “Eeeeeeh, Shirley.” Jeffrey said hesitantly. “See you later, right?” “You bet ya.” Shirley smiled, opening the gate. “What about tomorrow at 12:00?” she suggested. “Noon will be just fine.” They stood there for a moment thinking about how to say good bye. Their lips were extremely close to each other. Then Shirley remembered why she was in a hurry. “Oh, sorry, gotta run!” she said before she dashed off, disappearing around the corner of the street. Jeffrey looked at the sky dreamily as he closed the gate. What are the chances of finding a smart girl in such a small town that does detective work too. While he kept on thinking about Shirley, he turned around and walked towards the house.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 9: A SHOCKING DISCOVERY

Shirley reached the front door of the Gianelli residence within ten minutes what would qualify as an Olympic record, since she sped all the way across Redington. She didn’t take the time to gain her breath and immediately rung the bell next to the door. She scanned her surroundings like any good detective would do. (That wouldn’t include Tremain. He wouldn’t recognize a bankrobber when bumped into one during his business at the bank.) The front garden was full of colorful flowers; it was a sea of color. They were sprinkled with fresh water by the sprinkler system. She was almost ready to freshen up under a sprinkler when the door opened. A tall man in a business suit had answered and asked her who she was.

“Hello, I’m Shirley Holmes.” she introduced herself, “I’m a friend of Alicia’s.” The man’s face brightened up.

“It’s so nice to finally meet you! She has told me so much about you.” He invited her in and closed the door behind her. Then he led her towards a sitting room and offered her a seat. “Do you want a drink?” he asked Shirley in a polite fashion. “Let me get Alicia she’s upstairs studying for her maths.”

“No thank you, actually I came here to see you.” she responded. She was seated on a blue sofa besides a small table with a vase of roses. Opposite to her Mr. Gianelli had taken a seat in a very comfortable, large chair.
He smiled at her.

“Well, I’m honored…How can I help you young lady?”

“I came across a newspaper clipping when I was doing research for an essay on hero’s…and…” An awkward silence unwrapped and took over the room.

“And…what?” Mr. Gianelli asked after a while.

“You helped the police putting a man into jail once, a man called…” Shirley was abruptly interrupted.

“Joe Moreno.” Suddenly Mr. Gianelli turned serious “I hoped I’d never hear that name again.” he trembled. “He nearly ruined my business with his shady deals. When I set him up and got him arrested … He swore to me I’d pay for it one day.” Shirley was shocked by his story.

“I’m so sorry I dragged it all up again.” Shirley apologized.

“No, no, you couldn’t help it!” Mr. Gianelli sighed. Shirley decided to switch to another subject. “Is Mr. Osment a friend of yours?” Mr. Gianelli calmed down. “Yes, he is. I was in Sydney at the time. He was graduating in mathematics and I happened to offer him a job.” It was silent for a moment. “What happened?” Shirley asked. He thought he was better at writing than calculating. He adjusted the books and I had to turn him in for my own sake. Sometimes I wonder if that was the right thing to do…” He started to sob. “It seems like everything I do turns out wrong, I can’t do anything right.” He buried his face in his arms. Shirley pitied him. She had caused his emotional outburst and she felt guilty for asking him the questions that led to it. She apologized again and said she’d leave to be home in time for dinner. Mr. Gianelli wiped the tears of his face and gently grabbed Shirley.

“Wait a minute! Alicia would kill me if I’d let you go without greeting her. Let me get her for you.” Shirley agreed, thinking it was the only thing she could do to make him a bit happy again. “ALICIA! WOULD YOU PLEASE COME DOWN. THERE IS A VISITOR LEAVING!” he yelled from the bottom of the stairs that led to the floor containing the bedrooms. There was no reply. “She’s probably listening to some noisy music through a headphone. I’ll get her myself.”

“You really don’t have to…” Shirley uttered. “Nonsense, I want to. She’ll be happy to see you.” He walked up the stairs leaving Shirley alone in the hallway. She looked around noticed several pairs of shoes beneath the heater. She could pick Alicia’s shoes out of the lot immediately. They were so eccentric no one else would wear them. Suddenly she heard a scream from upstairs. She went there as soon as she could and she found Mr. Gianelli on the floor of Alicia’s room. He had dropped to the floor in the middle of the room. Shirley looked around and saw most of Alicia’s stuff was still there, but Alicia herself had vanished without a trace…

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 10: A MESSAGE

Alicia’s stuff was there…but that didn’t mean it was a good thing. Her clothes were scattered all around the room. Her colorful dress, she wore to the latest school dance was thrown into a corner of the room. Every single shoe was thrown out of the closet. Shirley looked at the window and found it had been forced open. She remembered Mr. Gianelli told her she had been doing her maths homework. She walked over to the cluttered desk. She looked around it and found her textbook facedown on the floor next to the desk. Then her attention was drawn back towards the window. She took a closer look at it and she found a muddy footprint in the windowsill. She carefully bagged some of the mud to examine. In the mean time Mr. Gianelli had risen from the floor. He looked around the room in tears.

“I know something is wrong! I just know it!” he kept on saying. Shirley turned back to the desk trying to comfort him at the same time. “I’m sure she’s OK.” Shirley doubted her own words. “When was the last time you saw her?” Shirley inquired. Mr. Gianelli seemed surprised by the question. He thought for a moment. “Eeeh, I think 15 minutes ago…” He bowed his head again and sobbed. “Sorry I don’t know.” Under a pile of spread-out papers she found Alicia’s workbook. She opened it to the chapter they were supposed to study and she was shocked by what she found. In long, eerie letters there was a message written across the first two pages of the chapter. She didn’t recognize the handwriting, but then again, anyone could forge one. The message sent a chill down her spine. Mr. Gianelli came up behind her and she was too upset to stop him.

Dear Gianelli and dear Ms. Holmes,

I know you two are surprised by my message. My little plan kinda failed the other day, but Ms. Holmes can fill you in about that Gianelli. Now I have your daughter and your friend. Please, check your e-mail for instructions and keep the police out of it. You know what happens if you disobey.

Yours truly,

Ghostface.

The message created heaps of new questions of which only a few could be answered. Obviously the kidnapper had been observing the house knowing exactly what was happening in and around it. Then there was the question of how the kidnapper got the e-mail address. Was it Molly hacking here way to whatever she wanted? The only thing that seemed logical about the whole thing was that it had been the same kidnapper. Shirley got an idea and took her cellphone out of her pocket and started to dial several numbers. First she called Molly. She answered the phone and Shirley turned her phone off right away. Then she realized it was pointless to do it. She heard that you could automatically connect your home number to your cellphone, so you would be available anywhere any time. So Molly answering the phone didn’t prove a thing. Shirley urged Mr. Gianelli to check his e-mail and to follow the given orders. They went to his study. Mr. Gianelli turned his computer on. It automatically logged on to the net and received new e-mail messages. Among the 16 messages he had received within the last 2 hours there was a large message containing a attachment with an avi extension. He opened it and started up the attached file. It gave a blurry moving image of Alicia tied to a chair, lit from only her right side in a dark place. Mr. Gianelli was so shocked he had to look away. He got of his chair and Shirley replaced him. Then they heard a voice. It was a eerie metallic voice like the one the killers in Scream used.

“So, Holmes. How are your ideas coming? Not very well, I suppose? Tell the old man I need two million. I’ll tell you the location tomorrow evening. Oh, I nearly forgot to say, I need YOU (that’s you Holmes) to bring it to me. Don’t call me, I’ll call you. Goodbye.”

Then the little window that had popped up in the center of the screen minutes before turned black. “What do I have to do?” Gianelli sobbed. “I can’t withdraw that amount of money on such a short notice.” “I’ll save her.” Shirley stated, although she wasn’t sure on how to do it yet. Mr. Gianelli looked up and seemed even more serious than he was. “NO! I can’t let you do that. I don’t want the friend of my daughter to get hurt.” “I HAVE to!” Shirley urged him. “If I don’t show up, who knows what might happen.” She turned back to the screen of the computer and got an idea. She replayed the whole thing but she turned the sound of to concentrate on the images. It took her several tries, but she finally stopped the movie on a frame on which she saw a glimpse of some graffiti on a pillar next to Alicia. It was a long shot, but she saw a detective film once, in which the location of the kidnappers was revealed by gang graffiti. It was a long shot, but she had to try.

“Can you print this out for me? I might know where she is.” Shirley asked the broken man behind her, while she turned. Mr. Gianelli grabbed the only change of help he got and printed the screen for her. Shirley took the paper from him and thought about how she’d leave him. Like he knew what she was thinking he answered her question, before she asked it. “I’ll be all right. Just go home. Please just talk to me when you found something out.” Shirley promised him to do so and, reluctantly, left for home.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 11: A CLOSER LOOK

Shirley was in her crime laboratory in the attic. She had spread out every forensic clue she had gathered so far on a table. A cardboard ring, a printout of a frame of a picture, some weird crumbs, a bag of mud…Next to them lay her notebook. She looked at the stuff on the table for a minute and grabbed the printout. She thought she noticed a faintly, light spot in the lower right corner of the picture. She decided to scan the printout and enhance it with a computer program. She scanned the picture into her computer and started to enhance the spot. It was nothing, a dead end again. She felt like she was missing a vital clue. She turned the scan back to full size on her screen and took a look at the other clues. She took the bag of mud and placed a sample under the microscope. Her face brightened.

“Wood splinters! Alicia’s place is clean like a whistle, the kidnapper must have brought them.” she said to herself. She took the map of Redington and started to look for places where she could find wood splinters. She marked all 44 places on the map. All do-it-your-self shops, warehouses which stored timber, and so on. She started to lose it. None of the clues gave her even a hint where to find Alicia. By the time she had checked out every place she had marked it would be too late to save her. She was also still thinking about the weird crumbs from the paint cans. She figured she needed help, so she decided to go over to Jeffrey the next day and ask his opinion. She didn’t have any proof, but she thought he was pretty smart. After that she cleaned up, put her clues away in a safe spot, and went to bed. After a long time she finally fell into a deep restless sleep.

********

The next morning Shirley took her time to sleep in. At 10 am she got up and started to get ready. She washed herself and took a bite of breakfast. After that she gathered her clues and left for Jeffrey’s place. On her way there she was thinking. She felt like she somehow tried to replace Bo and she didn’t see that as a good thing. How would he react on Saturday? When she entered the street Jeffrey lived in she pushed her thoughts to the back of her head and took a look around. It was a long street with relatively few houses. That was because the gardens which came with the houses where huge. Almost like a park. Although everything looked fine, Shirley got the weird feeling something was wrong. She looked around, only spotting a red car at the end of the street and a man walking his dog. It was a large Labrador. She arrived at the gate 3 minutes early. She pushed the large gray button as Jeffrey had done before and announced the arrival. After that she entered closing the gate behind her.

She still didn’t believe she actually was going to enter the Brisbane residence for the second time. Since yesterday a lot had changed. While she was walking towards the house, she noticed a gardener trimming a small bush. Near the house she noticed a white cart like the one caddies use to drive a professional golfer around a golf course. The way everything looked, the movers had brought in the stuff this morning. When Shirley reached the house Jeffrey came outside to greet her.

“Hi, Shirley how are you?” he asked happily. He came closer to her while he slammed the door shut. Shirley hesitated. “I want to ask you something…” she started. “Sure, fire away.” Jeffrey said. Shirley looked around the garden. “Can we go somewhere more … eeeh, private. I don’t want anyone else to hear it.” Jeffrey was excited. Maybe she wanted to declare his love for him. “Sure, whatever you want.” They walked inside and up to the stairs. They found themselves in a large hallway. Without any hesitation Jeffrey walked over to the third door on the left and showed Shirley in. The room was full of boxes, but in a corner there was a brand-new computer on a small desk. “This is going to be my room.” Jeffrey explained. “The interior decorator hasn’t been her and frankly I don’t care. I already know what I want…” He looked at Shirley noticing he drifted off. “Oh, sorry! You wanted to tell me something?” Again Shirley hesitated, but finally she found the courage to tell him. “My friend Alicia got kidnapped last Monday…” Shirley started, as her entire story since last Sunday came out. Word by word; detail by detail. Everything about Joe Moreno, Mr. Osment, Mr. Longstone and all the weird stuff that had happened came out. At first Jeffrey was disappointed, but he was clever enough not to show it. He just met her. Everything could still happen. Although he was disappointed at first, he got more interested with every word she spoke. “Last night she was kidnapped again, for real this time. Her dad even got a ransom demand…” Shirley blabbed on. “And now I’m totally stuck with it. I got these clues.” She spread out the clues on the table. “Can you help me?” she finished. Jeffrey was stunned.

“I thought your boyfriend was your Watson.” Jeffrey said suspiciously. Shirley shrugged. “He isn’t my boyfriend, where just good friends. Besides he had to go somewhere with his father.” Jeffrey knew Shirley lied. She was in love with that Bo guy. Her efforts to deny a love relationship with Bo said it all. He decided not to pursue the matter any further. “Let’s have a look at those clues then. I’ve read trillions of mystery novels. I know every plan in the book. I might just be able to help.” Shirley smiled at him. Maybe he was a bit too confident of himself. At least he was nice. A quality she highly favored in friends. Jeffrey had grabbed a magnifying glass from a box behind him. He studied the objects one at a time. “You’re quite the professional. Closed the stuff in special plastic bags, used gloves (there aren’t any greasy fingerprints on the bags). It’s terrific!” Jeffrey praised her. Shirley started to blush. “My mom can probably help with the mud and the crumbs. She has a new job at a laboratory.” Shirley glanced at him. “Really?” Jeffrey nodded. Then he bowed closer to the printout. “What is it?” Shirley anxiously asked. “I don’t know…it’s too small to see…my magnifying glass isn’t strong enough.” he murmured. He took the printout to his own computer and turned the state-of-the art device on. “What could possibly be on that printout? I examined that picture seven times.” The operating system was started and Jeffrey started a picture enhancement program, before scanning the printout into his computer. “I’m sure you did, but did you check the stuff outside the video frame?” “What?” Shirley asked. “You covered every inch on the picture but you never paid any attention to the rest of the screen.” There was a pause. Jeffrey placed the mouse pointer over the upper right corner of the image and clicked a few times.” Then he smiled. “But that’s exactly where the info was!” Shirley gasped in amazement. She saw a picture displayed of the box that had been in the upper right corner of the screen of Mr. Gianelli’s computer. The one showing the incoming e-mails. “That message was sent at 4.45 p.m. That couldn’t be! Alicia was kidnapped at least thirty minutes later!”

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 12: A CHEMICAL ANALYSIS

A silence filled the room and kept it in its grip for several minutes. Jeffrey was the one who broke the silence. “There is only one logical explanation…She must’ve been in on her own kidnapping.” He looked at Shirley, who stared back at him focussing her blue eyes on his face. “You don’t know Alicia!” she loudly pleaded for her friend. “She wouldn’t do that to her father! She wouldn’t lie to me either. What would be her motive?” Shirley went on. Jeffrey had to admit his theories on that where still foggy. They turned back to the table with the clues. Jeffrey raised the bag with the crumbs up to the light. After looking at it closely, from every angle he handed it to Shirley and grabbed the bag with the mud. “Let’s get these two to mum.”

They were interrupted by a little knock on the door. “Come in.” Jeffrey announced. There was no reply. With a little bit of deducting skills Jeffrey figured it would be his deaf brother, so he went over to the door to let him in. Both Shirley and Jeffrey greeted Mark when he entered and Jeffrey closed the door behind him. “I still can’t believe you know sign language.” Jeffrey said. “It’s not very usual these days. How did you learn it?” Shirley grinned. “I took a course when I got bored about 4 years ago. I guess that’s why I’m a bit rusty.” They both signed what they said, so Mark was able to follow the conversation. Shirley’s movements weren’t all that fluent, but they were terrific for someone who took a course 4 years ago. “What are you doing?” Mark signed. Jeffrey looked at Shirley, practically asking for approval. Shirley nodded. “You explain. I don’t know enough words to explain it myself.” “A friend of Shirley was kidnapped and we’re trying to find out who it was.” he explained quickly. Then he went back to his chair. Mark walked over to the table looking at the collection of objects displayed on it. “This stuff is supposed to help?” Mark asked, pondering how that could be achieved. “Yes.” Jeffrey went on. “A criminal always leaves something like a fingerprint or another clue. We have this stuff and some of the objects might just unmask the kidnapper.” Mark’s attention was drawn towards the cardboard ring. It looked pretty normal. He took it from the table turning it in his hands. It felt weird. “NO!!!” Jeffrey quickly turned the head of his little brother to himself mouthing the warning. “I hope you took fingerprints…” he said to Shirley. She just sighed. “I thought you could do that, I ran out of equipment.” Jeffrey got angry. He could have destroyed valuable evidence. Mark tapped on his shoulder to stop him from raving at Shirley. They both looked at him in amazement. The ring had stuck to the bottom of his hand for a moment before falling to the ground again. “Magic!” Mark grinned. “Did you ever touch the ring on the outside?” Jeffrey asked Shirley. “No.” Shirley responded. “I didn’t want to destroy potential fingerprints.” Jeffrey took the ring from the floor and gently felt the surface on the outside of the ring. It was sticky. He was puzzled, as was Shirley. “So, it’s a ring that has held duck tape. Why is that evidence?” Jeffrey pondered. “Wasn’t that what Alicia was tied up with…Why would the kidnapper leave that behind?” Thinking further on the matter gave three options. Option 1: It was just some tape of the owner. The ring had rolled under the workbench while he was working. Option 2: The kidnapper left it on purpose, knowing there was no clue to be found. Option 3 was the one that they all hoped was right. But when Jeffrey started dusting for fingerprints something happened that both he and Shirley had feared. The dust stuck to the remainder of the glue. There was no way to find any fingerprints.

********

“Mum?” Jeffrey asked as he guided Shirley into the parlor. “Yes, honey.” Rebecca answered her son. Shirley looked at the plot unfolding before her eyes. A fifteen-year-old boy was about to trick his mother. Jeffrey seemed to make a few considerations at the same time. “What is it?” his mother urged. Shirley had fun looking at the scene. Jeffrey was a great actor. Rebecca was on the leather couch reading a book about feng-shui. From time to time she moved her long blonde hairs back to reveal her beautiful blue eyes. She would make a great friend for Gran. They must have tons of feng-shui stuff to talk about. “Shirley has a project for school and I think you could help her.” he said. Rebecca seemed to get interested. She closed her book and put it on the glass table. “So, tell me…What is it?” she asked curiously. Shirley decided to jump in and help Jeffrey. “I have to do a report on a profession. I’m really interested in chemistry and Jeffrey mentioned to me you’re a chemist…” Shirley started. “That’s right…” Rebecca said, not exactly understanding the point yet. “I was wondering…” Shirley continued. “Could you show me around the lab you work at?” Rebecca thought for a moment. “It is my day off, you know.” Jeffrey showed her his most sad face. “Well, I suppose I can try, BUT I don’t promise anything. If the guard won’t let you in, I can’t do anything.” Jeffrey smiled. “Thanks mum.” Shirley followed his lead. “Thank you Mrs. Brisbane.” How could she resist these two wonderful, honest kids?

********

Half an hour later a car stopped at the main entrance gate of Proton Chemical Research. “This is it.” Rebecca announced. She pushed a button to let the window down. A man approached the window. “Hi, Rebecca. Nice to see you. Wasn’t today a free day for you?” The guard asked. “Yes Pete, it is. But these kids asked me to give them a tour.” Rebecca explained. The fat man in the security uniform laughed. “Finally found someone interested in your job? Go on. Just follow the safety rules.” Rebecca thanked Pete and closed her window again. While they waited for the barrier to rise, Rebecca talked. “It’s so nice here. I just started to work here and I already feel at home.” She drove the car to the parking lot at the side of the main entrance. They all got out and followed Rebecca inside and through several security checks. The rules were perfectly maintained. At the last checkpoint Shirley and Jeffrey got a labcoat and a pair of safety goggles. They put them on while Rebecca rummaged through her locker and put on her own. Finally they passed the last door and Rebecca started her tour. “Here at Proton Chemical Research, we research almost everything you can imagine.” Shirley and Jeffrey followed her down a hallway peeking through different doors to see huge devices and many glass bottles and cylinders. “We do research on the admitted limit of iodium in salt; we do research on the situation of Redington soil; we even do research for the Redington Police Department sometimes. PCR is what is called an independent research facility.” Shirley’s eyes lit up by the words about the Redington Police Department. She interrupted Rebecca. “Suppose someone gave you a sample, could you identify it?” Rebecca thought for a moment. “Yes, I suppose I could.” she finally answered. Shirley got the bag with the crumbs out of her pocket and handed it to Mrs. Brisbane. “Let’s test it!” Mrs. Brisbane said enthusiastically.

********

Finally, after 15 breathtaking minutes, the recorder came to life and made a printout of the readings. Rebecca had pulverized some crumbs and put a small sample in a solution, so she could introduce the sample in the mass spectrometer. She took the printout and looked at it, sunken in thoughts. “That must be the molecular ion…No that can’t be right. I miss some signals…” Mrs. Brisbane murmured to herself. She sat down at a desk and drew some arrows on the paper. “Do you know what it is yet?” Jeffrey asked impatiently. Suddenly a switch turned in Rebecca’s mind. “Maybe…” she said mysteriously. She rolled her desk chair over to a bookcase and she grabbed a huge book titled ‘Mass Spectra of Organic Molecules, Volume III’. She browsed the index and then quickly turned hundreds of pages at once to land on a page with an exact replication of what they had measured. “So what is it?” Shirley asked. “There is no doubt about it.” Rebecca answered. “This sample contained poly-butadieen.” Jeffrey frowned. “Say again? Sorry, I’m lousy at chemistry. Something I didn’t inherit from mum.” He joked. Rebecca answered with a smile. “In normal English it’s called rubber.” Shirley frowned. “Rubber?” Rebecca looked at Shirley with a concerned look. “Are you OK?” Shirley looked up at her. “Oh sure, I’m fine. I just didn’t expect it to be rubber.” “Well time to go.” Without any other words Shirley and Jeffrey followed Rebecca back through all the checkpoints to the car. Shirley’s mind was still at work trying to fit in the new development. But every time she bumped into a wall during her tries. Maybe Bo had been right with his first words. Maybe it was impossible. NO. NO. NO. Stop thinking like that Holmes. It had to be possible and she was determined to find out how. No matter what…

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 13: A SOLVED CASE?

“I don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense at all.” Shirley said. Shirley and Jeffrey were in Shirley’s attic. “Nice place.” Jeffrey said. Shirley got angry. “Can you stay with me now? A friend of mine has been kidnapped!” Jeffrey looked her in the eyes. Her beautiful blue eyes. Now they were alone like this, Jeffrey felt a bit uneasy. Did she know he liked her? Was it really true Bo wasn’t her boyfriend? He decided to hang around to find out. “Sorry…” he replied to Shirley, doing his best not to show her his feelings. Shirley went on with her loud thinking. “So, if Alicia was in on her own kidnapping – what I doubt – what was her motive? And what did she put in the cans…Her kidnapper?” It was silent for a moment as Shirley looked up to the portrait of her great grand uncle. “How did she tie herself up and why send her father a ransom demand?” All the questions swirled around Shirley’s mind, but she was unable to find a satisfying answer to them. Suddenly Jeffrey’s eyes started to twinkle. You could almost see that a process was taking place in his brain.

“THAT’S IT!” Jeffrey suddenly announced with a loud voice. Shirley quickly turned to him in amazement. “You figured it out?” Shirley gasped. “Yes and frankly I don’t understand why we didn’t see it sooner.” Jeffrey said, pulling Shirley into a seat. “You may have to sit down for this.” Shirley became impatient and curious at the same time. “Come on Jeffrey! Spill it!” Jeffrey started to explain his theory to Shirley. “First you have to clear your head from any ideas you might have on this case…” “Are you going to hypnotize me?” Shirley asked with a smile. Jeffrey smiled back at her. “I might.” he stated mysteriously. “You were mislead from the beginning. Think logically. What if you saw two people entering a building, to find only one person there a few minutes later.” He paused a moment for effect. “He must have used a secret passage or something.” Shirley suggested. “But since there were no obvious exits, this leaves only one logical explanation…The guy was never there in the first place.” Shirley’s eyes grew wider. “But I…” she uttered. “That’s exactly what they wanted you to believe. You witnessed an illusion, a magic trick, without even knowing it.” The words stayed in the air, while Shirley was trying to understand. “Wait a minute…You said they. Do you know who did this?” Jeffrey grinned. “Oh yeah! I just need to look at the evidence one more time to find out their location.” He walked over to the Shirley’s backpack and took out the bag of mud. “Hey!” Shirley yelled. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” Jeffrey looked at her. “What are you talking about?” “The name! What is the name of the kidnapper?” “Eeeh, I don’t really know exactly.” Jeffrey said, looking at the mud through a microscope. “WHAT!” Shirley couldn’t believe what she just heard. “Calm down, Shirley. I don’t know exactly who kidnapped Alicia, but I do know who the great mastermind is.” He took his eyes of the microscope and turned back to his new friend. “And I also found out where they are hiding.” Shirley couldn’t stand it anymore. “So who is it?” Jeffrey seemed to have a hard time answering that question. Finally he answered her. “I can’t tell, but we surprise them tonight.” “Can you at least give me a clue?” Jeffrey thought for a moment. “Sure! Let me think for a second…” A long silence overwhelmed the room. Finally Jeffrey said something which seemed to make no sense at all. “Just ask Watson.” Shirley looked alternatively to Jeffrey and her dog. Watson lay under her desk. He was asleep. “That’s it?” Shirley asked him. “Yeah! Are you going to let me out?” Jeffrey inquired. Shirley had started thinking again, but for once in her life she was completely stumped. Jeffrey’s question had broken her thoughts. “Oh…Sure!” she answered him. She went on thinking while they both walked downstairs. “Well, see you at midnight.” Jeffrey said as he stepped outside, keeping his voice down so only Shirley would hear it. Shirley’s natural curiosity had taken over. “Yeah, see you tonight.” For a moment they both didn’t know what to do. Finally Shirley said something, using an Australian accent. “Goodbye mate.” Jeffrey cracked a smile. “G’day Shirley.” Shirley closed the door and Jeffrey walked down the road back to his home. Yet again he was all alone.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 14: SHOWDOWN

It was 11:44 and Shirley lay in her bed. She didn’t wear her nightgown; she was in her regular outfit. She figured she’d win time by not having to suit up. The last digit of her alarm clock changed to a five and promptly an alarm sounded through the room. She quickly turned it off so no one else would wake up. She got out of her bed and searched in a drawer for a flashlight. She found it and got her backpack that lay against her desk. After that she opened the window and climbed out carefully. She had just realized that Jeffrey didn’t tell her were to meet her. She sighed. Just her luck. Here she was out of the house, on a pretty cold night and she didn’t even know where to go. If dad or Gran would find out what she was doing she would be in great trouble. She walked towards the road and quickly ducked so no one could see her from inside the house. An icy wind whirled her hair. Suddenly a hand dropped down on her shoulder. “EEEEEEK!!!” Shirley screamed. “Wow! Keep it down. I thought we were supposed to meet. Why did you scream like that?” Jeffrey said. Shirley sighed and looked around the street. All was still quiet. “You didn’t say where we would meet. Besides I’m a bit jumpy, with the kidnapping and all. Can you blame me?” Jeffrey shook his head in silence. “Come on, let’s go.” he whispered. “Where to?” Shirley replied. “To an old warehouse down town.” After that they both left without saying another word.

********

Several minutes later two dark dressed figures sneaked around the seemingly abandoned warehouse. When they heard a noise they both hid behind a large wooden box. The noise turned out to be a cat. “How exactly did you find out the kidnapper is here?” Shirley asked her new friend, while they were still in hiding. “I ran another test on the mud and it also seems to hold a high dosage of aluminum. This was the only place in town were you can find both wood cutting equipment and a high dosage of aluminum in the same place.” Jeffrey explained. “I thought you were a lousy chemist?” Shirley asked. “OK!” Jeffrey admitted. “My mum did it for me.” He sighed and a small cloud of condensation formed in the air. Shirley just tried not to laugh. Instead she gave Jeffrey her plan. “I’ll go in to save Alicia. You’re my back up. If I don’t return within 30 minutes you get help, OK.” “Roger that.” Jeffrey joked. Shirley gave him a serious look that stopped him from making anymore jokes. “Wish me luck. I’m going in.” While Shirley left Jeffrey and closed in on the warehouse Jeffrey started a mysterious smile. “Good luck Shirley!” After he saw Shirley entering the building, he left in the same direction.

********

When Shirley entered the building it was entirely dark. She carefully took the flashlight out of her backpack and turned it on. She found herself in a large and dark room with large white pillars to hold up the ceiling. One of these pillars had been used in the video. Shirley quickly searched the room and found several boxes stacked near the walls. When she looked in the center of the room, she found Alicia tied to a chair. She hurried towards her. When she reached her she gently woke her up. “Alicia are you OK? It’s me Shirley.” she whispered. Alicia raised her head. “Shirley? Please help me I’m scared!” she said, while she started to sob. “Of course, I’ll help.” Shirley reassured her. She started to undo the rope around her friend as the lights went on. There was no place to hide. She was discovered. From a corner of the room that was still dark a figure in a Ghostface costume appeared. He was as scary as in the scream movies. “What’s happening Shirley?” Alicia asked in fear. “It’s OK.” Shirley lied. If Jeffrey was getting the police, they would be way too late to catch the criminals.

Again Ghostface had a voice distorter. “So, Ms. Holmes. We find ourselves together again.” he spoke. Shirley eyes grew. “I know you?” “Oh. Yes you do and I know you.” Ghostface answered calmly. “So…guess. Who am I?” Shirley admitted she didn’t have a clue. She figured the kidnapper would tell her anyway. This seemed like a showdown to her. “I finally outwitted the great Shirley Holmes. Now, that’s not something many people can say.” Shirley stayed remarkably calm. “Why did you go through all that trouble? Even I knew Mr. Gianelli couldn’t cough up 2 million dollars. Why bother trying to kidnap Alicia?” Ghostface laughed evilly. “Oh boy, are you wrong. It wasn’t about money. It wasn’t even about Ms. Gianelli here.” Shirley was puzzled. Ghostface seemed to know pretty much. “It was all about YOU. Still don’t know me SHIRLEY?” The guy, or whatever he was, started to scare her and she thought she could hit back. “I told someone where I was going. The police could be here any minute now.” Ghostface laughed even harder. Suddenly someone dressed in a large black robe with a large hood came nearer, pulling a struggling prisoner along. “You don’t mean him, do you?” he asked sarcastically. Shirley dropped to the floor. They had caught Jeffrey. Now she didn’t have any back up. She was on her own. All hope was gone. “The game is up and since you are all my prisoner…I’ll be generous. I will show you my face.” Ghostface stated. Shirley kept thinking frantically. Was it Molly? Was it a weird prank of Stink? In only seconds she would find out. Ghostface put down his voice distorter on a crate and raised his hand. His hand slowly came down on his mask. He grabbed it and slowly moved his hand back up. Slowly the mask revealed the face of the person behind the mask. Shirley gasped as she looked straight into the eyes of the kidnapper…

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 15: CONCLUSION (1)

Before Shirley stood a boy in a large black robe. Something she thought she’d never see. The blond boy looked at Shirley full of affection. His blue eyes gazed into hers. “Bo?” Shirley asked in disbelief. She was nailed to the ground. Bo passed her and untied Alicia. “Thanks.” she said to Bo. “Am I missing something here?” Shirley asked. “Sorry, but I am shocked.” She managed to say. Bo started to explain. “Well…It’s your birthday next Sunday and I wanted to give you something special…” He started to blush. Jeffrey glanced at him, while the other masked figure let go off him. “So, you decided to fix me a mystery.” she finished. “Yeah.” Bart removed his hood. “But how did you know I was coming?” Shirley asked him. Jeffrey shrugged. “That would have been me. When I found out Alicia was in on it and that the kidnapper wanted you to deliver the money, I expected it was a scheme to set you up for a surprise.” Shirley laughed at them. “Wow! You really fooled me! How did you do it?” “I’ll tell you later. First I’ll have to show you another surprise.” Bo walked over to the door. He opened it and a crowd of people came in. Shirley’s father and Gran were there, followed by the parents of Alicia and Bo. Even Jeffrey’s parents and brother had come. “SURPRISE!” They all yelled in unison. “First it’s time for presents.” Bo smiled. They all gathered around Shirley who became shy of all the attention. “New people first!” Bo encouraged Jeffrey as he walked up to Shirley with a small package. He stared into her blue eyes. He wasn’t sure if he should kiss her in the crowd. Before he could make a decision, Shirley made it for him. She gave him three polite kisses on his cheeks, before accepting the present. “It’s not much, but consider it was on very short notice.” Jeffrey said. Everyone watched in excitement as she unwrapped the paper and opened the small box inside. Slowly her eyes filled with tears of joy. “Jeffrey, I don’t know what to say…It’s beautiful.” She hugged him tightly. “Show us, what is it?” Alicia asked in her usual hyper way. Shirley showed them a necklace with a beautiful blue rock in it. It glittered in the light. Jeffrey helped her putting it on, not noticing Bo’s expression. Why did he feel so angry? It wasn’t like Shirley was his girlfriend. Shirley smiled while unwrapping the other presents. She was having a great time.

When the presents were all given, the parents and grandparents started chatting with each other in a corner of the room. The kids were all gathered. Mark had joined them to find out what was going on. “So how did you do it?” Shirley asked Bo one more time, while she signed the same question for Mark. “What is with the signing?” Bo asked her. “Mark is deaf, so I sign my questions, so he can follow the conversation.” Shirley said with an annoyed tone in her voice. “And now please tell me…” Bo opened his mouth and started to explain…

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 16: CONCLUSION (2)

Everyone, especially Shirley, was listening to Bo as he started his explanation. He leaned against one of the crates. “Last Saturday I was checking out websites - Alicia asked me to find some info on Dawson’s Creek.” He glanced at Alicia when he mentioned her. “Somehow she seems to like that TV show.” He glanced at Alicia who gave him an angry look. “Anyway, when I was browsing the sites my search engine found, I accidentally bumped into a site on the TV show Jonathan Creek. He is some British Illusionist…or rather illusion inventor who also solves crimes with an investigative crime writer. He seems to have solved a lot of weird and seemingly impossible crimes and when I saw that I just couldn’t resist staging one for you. You haven’t seen any episodes of it, so it was the perfect gift.” He was silent for a moment to catch his breath and went on. “So I asked Bart and Alicia if they wanted to help. I wrote the story of the escaped convict and instructed a friend who worked in the Chicago Jail to tell you my story if you called them. After that I called you and asked you to come over on Sunday. I wanted you to think ‘Joe Moreno’ did it, or at least confuse you so you didn’t suspect Alicia, Bart or me. That was the next step in the plan…” Alicia took over.

“I told you I had to go back upstairs, so Bart and I would be alone when he changed into the scream costume. We borrowed it from Stink. Bo talked you into going upstairs. You saw us, not knowing it was all a setup. And not knowing I had hidden a dummy in my room. When you two went downstairs for the keys, I switched into the costume and took the dummy that was dressed like me. Bart hid in my room and acted as he had been knocked out.” Shirley started to understand it. She addressed Alicia as she started to talk. All Alicia could do was listen.

“You never intended to drive the car. You just wanted me to witness you being dragged downstairs when you were actually pulling a dummy along. You ran towards the garage like planned. Mr. Longstone is probably related to Bo, or something.” Bo gave her a little smile. She was right again. Shirley proceeded with her explanation. “You threw away the gun, because you didn’t need it anymore. It was just to threaten and – more important you didn’t want me to look for it inside the garage. When you where inside you dropped the costume on the floor and quickly sawed the dummy in pieces. You hid the pieces in the paint cans, knowing that was the last place I’d look for a missing person. That’s why I found rubber crumbs in the cans. You taped yourself up, using the hatstand. You taped your mouth and eyes first, then put the ring on the hatstand, turned yourself within the tape and kicked the ring the tape had been on as far away as you could.”

Shirley stopped talking and looked at the people in the circle around her. “Right!” Bo said.

“What about that phone thing?” Shirley asked him. “When I was looking for the phone, I didn’t come straight back when I found it. I called Molly first so she would answer if you tried redial. It was a safe guess that Molly would remove the call from her phone records. I called her from that number several times., telling her I knew all about her criminal plans. I made sure she didn’t recognize me. Every call she gets is recorded with that program and after the previous calls she had instructed her computer to delete all calls from that number.” Bo explained. “I knew she’d never mention it to you.”

“Just one more thing…” Shirley started. Alicia replied before she could finish the question. She was almost certain of what Shirley was going to ask. “You wanted to know about my father?” “Yes!” Shirley said, surprised by Alicia’s deducting. “He was just a great actor. He was the star player in almost every school play he ever did. When you came to my house my dad quickly send Bo a message to send the video. He just made that tiny mistake with the time. Everything else had been arranged like you found it the day before.” Alicia finished the explanation.

Bo shrugged “You would never have known about the dummy if it hadn’t been for Jeffrey and his family. Just my luck.” He bowed his head. Shirley smiled. All she could do is ask a question.

“You went through all that trouble for ME?” She sounded like she almost didn’t believe it. “Boo-oo! That is the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me.” Her emotions caught up with her and she embraced Bo tightly. She moved her lips closer to his and gave him a long and tender kiss. It didn’t matter to her that anyone was there and quite frankly Bo didn’t care either. He enjoyed the moment and was a bit disappointed when Shirley finally broke the embrace. Finally Shirley had showed his feelings for him. During the kiss Jeffrey suppressed his feelings. This was no ordinary thank you-kiss. It looked like Shirley really loved Bo. Jeffrey would have no chance. At least she’d still be a great friend. After she broke the embrace Shirley spoke to Bo. “You DO know you totally misled and deceived me, do you?” Shirley lectured Bo. Bo sighed. He would never be able to understand the complexity of the mind of Shirley Holmes. Shirley just cracked a small smile that made the silence in the room stronger.

Bart was the one who broke the silence. “Well, I guess you both lost the bet. Alicia is back and neither Molly nor you has solved the mystery!” he said with a small smile. “She must be really mad.” Everyone agreed to keep this a secret from Shirley’s archrival. It would be for the best. But somehow Shirley knew Molly still had some devious schemes up her sleeve. She would only believe Molly was beaten if she experienced it herself. Suddenly Shirley remembered something. “Maybe, I didn’t solve this case…Jeffrey did a great job on it, but I know something else.” Everyone looked at Shirley in amazement. “Jeffrey’s family is being stalked. I saw a red car, probably a Ford, on two separate occasions and the driver was looking at us. When I saw him, he quickly drove away.” “Do you know who it is?” Jeffrey asked her. Although he was disappointed by her relationship with Bo he was afraid of leaving town. He felt like his family belonged here. Mark really liked it. He was drawn back to reality by Shirley’s voice. “I have to check something, but I am quite sure.” Jeffrey didn’t have a clue who she was talking about. He just hoped she was right and that the guy would turn to jail so he could never meddle with his life again.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 17: CATCHING A STALKER

Shirley had convinced Bo to help her and Jeffrey catching the stalker. He was in the street across of the huge estate the Brisbanes had recently purchased. He held a walkie-talkie, which he used to keep Shirley and Jeffrey up-to-date. Shirley and Jeffrey were on the other side of the fence and the high wall of the entrance. The atmosphere was extremely tense. “What’s happening Bo? Over.” After a little while Bo’s voice sounded. “Nothing in sight.” There was a small pause. “I don’t think he’s coming today. It’s early Saturday morning, right?” “Ever heard of a stalker working by office schedules?” Just as Bo was about to answer a red Ford turned into the street. Bo ducked behind an expensive and reported it to Shirley. He just hoped her plan would work. The car moved closer and stopped near the gate of the estate. A large figure in black clothes exited the car and approached the gate. “Bo wanted to warn Shirley, but all the walkie-talkie gave was static. The man entered the security code he saw all of the Brisbanes punching into the keyboard at one of his observations. When he entered the estate, Shirley and Jeffrey came out of hiding.

“Hello Mr. Osment. What are you doing here?” Shirley asked the figure. He was surprised by this sudden appearance… Oh well, there always was a chance she’d find out. “I could ask you the same question.” he responded. “Jeffrey invited me, but you’re not invited. Even close friends don’t know the code, so you must have been spying at us.” Shirley took a breath. “Why just not respect their privacy and get your story the legal way?” David Osment showed an evil grin. “That Australian newspaper must be offering a fortune if you want to do this to get it.” She knew David wanted to speak. “So how exactly did you find out?” he asked as calm as he could. “I remembered seeing a red Ford earlier. This morning it hit me. I saw it in the parking lot when I came to school last Monday. Since no one in this street drives a red Ford, I thought it was peculiar for such a car to stop right in front of the gate of a large estate.” Shirley stated. David’s evil grin grew. “Apart from your mistake with your disguise when you questioned me, you have been quite smart. You remembered I worked in Australia and you made the connection to your new friends. Bravo!” Suddenly his face turned even meaner than before. “It’s just a shame you can’t tell anybody anymore.” he said with a raw voice. He drew a gun and pointed it at Shirley. “The change was too big for poor little Jeffrey he couldn’t take it anymore. He went crazy, shot a girl and committed suicide.” He explained sarcastically. Both Shirley’s and Jeffrey’s eyes grew wider in fear. “Y-you can’t do this. I already warned the police.” Shirley said. “That won’t help you. If I can’t get my story, you will have to pay for your nosiness.” He aimed his gun more precise and approached Shirley. Shirley just backed up. Where are the police when you need them? David was so obsessed with Shirley he didn’t notice that Bo had spied on him when he used the code. He had used it himself and jumped Shirley’s attacker from behind when he was about to shoot Shirley he was just in tome to save her. They both tumbled to the ground with the gun between them. They kept on struggling until a shot sounded. After that all was silent until Shirley had realized what happened. A shiver went down their spines. “BOOO!!!!” she yelled, fearing the worst. All of a sudden she heard a groan from the two men. Bo got up. He was covered in blood and trembling on his feet. Jeffrey looked down at Mr. Osment. He accidentally shot himself in the fight. He had no pulse.

********

A few minutes later flashing lights filled the estate and cops were all swarming around the entrance gate. Minutes before Jeffrey’s parents had come outside to see what had happened. They left Mark inside, anticipating the event that took place when they heard the shot. They saw the body of the man and immediately turned away. While Shirley, Bo and Jeffrey told the police what happened, careful not to expose their sleuthing, Mr. Brisbane talked to another officer.

“Yes, I know him. That reporter has been stalking me for months. I thought I could shake him off by moving here. I guess I was wrong.” His face was serious. What if that loony had succeeded? What if he shot Jeffrey and Shirley? Could I ever have forgiven myself? “When I became famous with my first magic show, I intended to leave my family out of publicity. That way they could live a normal life…” He was silent for a moment and looked the detective straight in the eye. “Was I wrong?” he asked him, fighting his tears.

“No, what you did was perfectly normal.” the detective reassured him. “You wanted to protect your family.”

“I guess I have to leave now, before those bloodhounds sniff me out again.” When Jeffrey heard his father say the word ‘leave’ he dashed over to him. “NO! We can’t leave…I-I…like it here.” Jeffrey stated to his father. He was surprised. “I thought you hated to leave your friends in Australia?” Jeffrey nodded. “I did…but now I am here with Shirley, Bo…Alicia and Bart…I don’t want to leave…I have new friends.” He couldn’t tell his father about how he felt. Jeffrey was convinced Redington was the place where Mark would be happy. His parents were caring and all, but they didn’t understand that. All they saw was Mark running and playing in the house. They never saw it when Mark was really sad and crying in the arms of his big brother. Lloyd hesitated for a moment before he turned to the detective. “Can you keep a lookout for us? Just drive by sometimes, to see if everything is OK?” “Sure.” the detective replied. Jeffrey embraced his father and his face brightened in a instant. “Thanks dad. I really appreciate it.” “No problem son.”

In the mean time the body was brought away. All what was left of this event where scary memories and a red stain in the grass.

TO BE CONTINUED


PART 18: EPILOGUE

Shirley sat down at her desk. This had been a weird week. She got her journal and browsed it for an empty page. She took a pen and started to write.

It has been a weird week for me. I visited the house of a famous magician. I even visited twice. I actually like Jeffrey, but I don’t know if he likes me the same way. And what about Bo? He misled me just to give me a special present. Maybe he likes me more than he wants to admit. He didn’t do anything about me kissing him. Anyway, it has been a great lesson for me. Trust no one. Never thought I’d say a typical X-file line. But seriously, when you trust people for a long time you tend to think you know them. But actually trust accumulates inside of you, taking you over. Sometimes that can be dangerous. Lucky for me I learned that lesson the safe way. Apart from the stalker, that is. Some trust is still good. I still trust that I’ll find alive one day, Mum. I still do.

Shirley put her pen down and put her journal back in her secret hiding spot. With wet eyes she fell to sleep. The blue stone of her necklace had a mysterious glow in the light of the moon, but she was to far off to dreamland to see it.

********

Jeffrey lay in his bed that had been assembled that afternoon. Everything was still messy and stacked with boxes. The decorators would come next Monday. He was writing in a small book.

I guess this place is a lot more fun than I first thought. Who would guess I would get permission to sneak out in my first week. I think I could even have fun here. Something tells me Shirley isn’t an ordinary girl. I really like her. I even think I love her, but I don’t know what she thinks of me. She hangs out with me, but it was Bo she gave the actual kiss. Dad decided to send me to Sussex Academy, so I have enough time to find out. And maybe she can help Mark to have fun again. Ever since the accident he has been rather sad, but with Shirley around he seems to lighten up. Actually Redington in general seems to make him feel better. It would be great to see him like he used to be. Funny, spontaneous… even obnoxious. Oh well, I guess it will take time. Something we’ve got plenty of. No matter what I will help my brother.

He closed the book and placed it on a box next to his bed next to the pen. Within minutes he dozed off. He didn’t see the eerie blue light that came from a box on the top of a pile in the far corner of his room. The box was open and if Jeffrey would have been awake he would have seen that the glow came from a small wooden box with beautiful carvings. It was a box made to keep jewelry in. The box also had some initials carved in them. The box had the letters J.H.W carved into them. The initials of John H. Watson.

THE END