The Fifth Beetle

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium

Chapter 17 (v.1) - Chapter 17

Submitted: January 11, 2019

Reads: 44

Comments: 2

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Submitted: January 11, 2019

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It was early evening and Inspector Cosgrove sat behind his desk re-reading the letter that had been sent to him that morning.

“Anything interesting?” asked Sergeant Grimes.

After Cosgrove had finished reading the letter, he played with it like a cat playing with a mouse. Then letting it fall onto his desk, he picked up the envelope inspecting the postmark.

“Might be.” He said.

Suddenly, without reason, Cosgrove leapt out of his seat and from the cloak stand grabbed his bowler hat. “Meet me downstairs in a couple of minutes with two constables!” he ordered the sergeant.

James Carter and the two women were being driven to the British Museum, this time courtesy of the Museum Director, Monsieur Rene de Pont. James had written to the Director to explain that, after seeing to his late brother's affairs, he was now in possession of his diary. James had received a reply by return, inviting him to attend a meeting at the Museum.

As their cab pulled up outside the main entrance, before they ventured out, Agatha took the opportunity to recap. “Remember, we still hold the trump card with this diary. If Monsieur de Pont wants it for the Museum, then the price he pays is to help us catch Thomas's murderer.

It was almost closing time and, as promised, Huntly-Smythe was waiting at the entrance to welcome them.

James Carter shook Mr Huntly-Smythe by the hand then proceeded to introduce Harriet and Agatha.

“This is my aunt Edith Cavandish, a student at Oxford.” He said, using Agatha’s alias. Huntly-Smythe shook Agatha’s hand trying to recollect where he had heard of that name before.

“And this is her niece, Nancy who is also my aunt’s secretary.” Harriet smiled holding out her hand.

“If you are ready, please follow me. We don’t want to keep the director waiting” Huntly-Smythe seemed to be in a hurry.

The four of them entered the Museum and climbed the wide, white marble staircase that rose majestically before them. At the top, they continued along a dark-wood, panelled corridor, lined with impressive Greek and Byzantine relics. At the end of the corridor was a door. Mr. Huntly-Smythe adjusted his tie, then knocked.

“ENTRE!” The voice was accentuated by a strong French accent. Huntly-Smythe opened the door, introduced the three of them to de Pont then he left them with the director shutting the door behind him.

Rene de Pont's office was cavernous. The Director sat behind a large polished oak table... a tall man wearing a smart, grey suit and smoking a cigarette, stood behind him.

James closed his eyes for a moment. He recognised the smell that permeated the office, it was a brand of cigarette widely smoked throughout North Africa and favoured by all Westerners. It also sent a shiver down his spine, he had picked up that same smell, the night he had been attacked.

James snapped open his eyes, looking beyond de Pont into the shifty eyes of the smart suited guy. As their eyes met, an evil smirk spread across his hard features. James's heart hammered as he tried to fight the urge to get the hell out of there.

“Welcome, Mr Carter... ladies. Please take a seat,” de Pont offered, pointing to the vacant chairs around the monstrous table.

Du Pont's office featured the same dark-wood panelling as the corridor. To the left of the central table stood a large bookcase and behind de Pont's seat at the top, was a bow-sash window dressed with a pair of deep red, velvet curtains.

It was what was beneath the window that caught Agatha’s eye. A large glass tank sat on a wrought iron frame, however, it was not filled with water but sand!

De Pont saw Agatha’s interest in the tank. “Would you like to see my children?”

De Pont led Agatha over to the tank, where she could see only sand and rocks. Just as she was wondering what she was meant to see, de Pont bent down, reached inside a cage and pulled out a mouse by its tail. With the small creature wriggling, de Pont opened the top of the tank and dropped the rodent in.

The mouse made a soft ‘plop’ as it hit the sand. Then sensing danger, it scurried around in the tank desperately looking for a place to hide. Harriet and James came over just in time to see four black scorpions shoot out from the rock’s shadows. Each one lanced the mouse with its tail, then proceeded to fight between themselves for their convulsing creature.

Harriet turned and buried her face into James shoulder, while Agatha looked into the tank in utter disgust at the dying animal. Then she thought back to the first time she saw Thomas lying on the museum floor with his swollen hand.

“Poor Thomas,” said de Pont. “He was reluctant to give me his diary. Mr Carter, let's hope for the sake of the young woman, you don't make the same mistake... Emile!

The tall grey figure of Emile Martinus snatched Harriet away from James holding a razorblade to her throat!


© Copyright 2019 Markie Bee. All rights reserved.

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