In 1891, Sherlock Holmes in a struggle with his arch-enemy, the Napoleon of Crime, Professor James Moriarty, plunged with him over the Reichenbach Falls to his inevitable death. All of England - indeed the entire world - mourned the irreplaceable loss of the world's greatest detective. And that's where things stood until 1894 when Holmes suddenly reappeared in London, revealing himself to his friend Dr. John Watson, and resumed his activities as a consulting detective. Holmes remained very quiet and mysterious on those missing three years, never really revealing precisely where he'd been and what he'd done in the 'hidden years."
Now, in this anthology of original stories the truth about those thirty-five months is unveiled and Holmes' adventures described. While some stories place Holmes in such familiar locations as New York and San Francisco, others find him high in the Himalayas or above the Arctic Circle. With stories from such writers as Rhys Bowen, Peter Beagle, Carolyn Wheat, Michael Collins and many others, Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years is a must-have book for every fan who has every wondered about the untold adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
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Michael Kurland is the author of nearly forty books, including both non-fiction and fiction, though he is perhaps best known for his novels and stories featuring Professor James Moriarty. He is the editor of the anthology My Sherlock Holmes and his novels A Plague of Spies and The Infernal Device were finalists for the Edgar Award. Born and raised in New York City, he lives in Petaluma, California.
Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years
The Beast of Guagming PeakMichael Mallory
"Wake up, Colonel Mackay, it's time for dinner," the nurse said, gently shaking the elderly, wheelchair-bound man out of a snoring sleep. The man's sunken eyes opened, and he looked up at her. A right cutey, was the first thought that passed through his mind, almost an angel--and she fancies me to boot. Mentally, Colin Mackay reckoned himself to be about thirty-eight. Physically, however, he was seventy-seven years old, and felt every day of it. At least I still have my dreams, he thought. Even a wheelchair could not slow down his dreams. He smiled at her, revealing his ten remaining teeth, and she gave him a dimpled smile back. "What did I miss, Cynthia?" he asked."Nothing, Colonel, but it's time for dinner, though I'm afraid we don't have meat today.""No matter," Mackay muttered, straightening himself up in his wheelchair and wincing from the pain in his right hip, which he had broken two years earlier. "I've been through worse."Cynthia stepped around behind the chair and pushed him into the dining room of the retirement home, where the table was already set. Nine other military pensioners were seated there, all from various wars, though none of them went as far back as the Boer conflict, which was Mackay's first taste of gunpowder. As usual, some of the men were grumbling over the failings of the menu."Damnable war's been over for seven years and still no meat," said Glendower, an army man, who was always complaining about something. "I just hope I live long enough to see the end of these shortages."Rooney, late of the Royal Air Force, said, "Ah, there could be an entire corned beef in front of you, and you'd still spend so much time complaining that you'd miss it entirely!"Some of the men laughed, one uttered, "hear, hear," and Glendower simply snorted and turned away. But the banter at the table ceased when Mackay settled behind the head of the table. "Good evening, Colonel," they each said, in recognition of the fact that he was the highest-ranking man among them."Good evening, lads," Mackay returned, and dinner commenced.After the meal was finished, Mackay was the first to be moved away from the table, as always. Cynthia pushed him back into the sitting room, close to the crackling fire. It was December, and the staff of the home had begun to hang up Christmas decorations.December 1951, the old man mused ... King George VI, the great-grandson of the sovereign who had ruled during Mackay's first twenty-eight years and who had lent her name to an age, and in whose name Mackay had first picked up a rifle and bayonet, now sat on the throne. Her great-grandson. Mackay could hardly believe it. He had been through three different wars and had escaped more bullets than any man ever had a right to. He had been in and out of more scrapes in his life than most men would have thought possible, and still he had managed to last into the start of the second half of the twentieth century. Certainly it was a bother and a burden to have lost the ability to walk, but the fact that he was here at all, when so many of his compatriots had fallen, was little short of astounding."Would you like the newspaper, Colonel?" Cynthia asked, handing him a copy of that day's London Times. Mackay always got first crack at the paper, which was not an elaborate courtesy, since only two or three of the other pensioners ever bothered to read it. The old man pulled out a pair of glasses from his sweater pocket and flipped through the pages, finding it hard to develop interest in what the Bank of England was forecasting for the new year economically, or what Winston Churchill had to say about the chances of the cease-fire talks in Korea. He was about to fold the section up when aphotograph on page twelve suddenly caught his eye. Reading the text underneath it, he muttered, "Crikey.""Did you want something, Colonel?" Cynthia asked."My dear, could you get me closer to the light, please?" he asked, and the young nurse complied, wheeling him closer to the table and lamp, which allowed him to see the photograph more clearly.The photo had been taken by Eric Shipton, who was mountaineering through the Himalayas alongside a chap named Michael Ward. It showed an enormous footprint, vaguely human in shape, but the length of an ax head, one of which had been placed next to the print in the photo for comparison. What struck Mackay about the print, though, was not the size but the fact that it appeared to have only four toes. "Good God," he uttered.He reread the accompanying article, more slowly this time, his mind barely able to contain the news that was being offered: the footprint, according to the Times, was the most conclusive proof yet of the existence of the mirka, the metoh, the kang-mi, the yeti, or, as it had come to be known in the Western world, the Abominable Snowman.As he continued to stare at the photo, the room began to turn cool. The Christmas decorations faded from view and the hardwood floors turned white and powdery. His lungs began to ache, and he seemed to have to fight for every breath. He was a young man again, a mere nineteen years old, fit as a bull, and possessing a mouthful of hard, white teeth. He walked through the freezing cold with the powerful legs of an athlete.He was on the mountain again. On the mountain. Once more facing the danger ...
Colin Mackay could no longer feel his legs, which was not a good sign. While still a relative novice at climbing, he had nonetheless seen a number of men succumb to the suddenness of frostbite and vowed that it would not happen to him. He was not about to part with a precious limb before his twentieth birthday. But he could not deny the numbness ... no, it was not even numbness, it was the total absence of feeling, an emptiness of sensation as pronounced as the total deprivation of color that stretched as far as he could see in every direction. White ... nothing but white. Keep moving, hecommanded himself, forcing his lungs consciously to measure every cold, fire-stinging breath, and keeping his mind alert by running Gilbert and Sullivan songs forward and backward in his mind. When the point came that he was no longer able to concentrate on precisely what was meant by commissariat, Mackay would know that the mountain had won.But he would not succumb easily, not while there was a fragment of thought in his mind or a cubic inch of oxygen in his body.How in blazes had he managed to lose all contact with the others? How long had he been trudging through the snow and wind without the benefit of a compass, desperately hoping to find any sign that would tell him that he was in proximity to the rest of the expedition? How far away was the camp?Far enough for your legs to lose all feeling, he thought grimly."No," he spoke, expelling a precious breath. There had to be a way back. He had been no more than ten minutes away from the camp when the wind had suddenly gusted, knocking him over, whiting out his vision, and covering over any tracks that he had made with blown snow. From that moment on, Mackay was effectively lost. Why had he been the one ordered to go out and track down the source of the mysterious cry they had all heard, a howl so eerie and foreboding that he could not believe Foss's judgment that it came from a lost sled dog? Why had not Foss been sent out? He was the more experienced mountaineer, after all. But it had been he, Mackay, whom the captain had sent, and the captain was in charge.He continued on, though his steps became more labored. Finally he knelt and packed the snow around his legs, praying that, somehow, that would allow the feeling to return. He had heard other mountaineers talk about packing a frostbitten limb in ice, and could not imagine how that would work, but it was better than doing nothing.As he sat there, quoting the fights historical from Marathon to Waterloo in order categorical, Colin Mackay suddenly had the terrible feeling that he had gone mad. How else could one explain the thin stream of black smoke that appeared out of nowhere in the distance? At first he thought it had to be his imagination, or worse, a hallucination announcing the beginnings of a seizure caused by altitude sickness. But as he watched, there was no mistaking the curl of the line of smoke. Someone, somewhere, up ahead, was burning something!Mackay began to trot toward the line of smoke, never letting it out of his sight, refusing to succumb to a whiteout again, drinking in each breath and holding it as long as he could to prevent himself from panting and wasting oxygen. He still had no feeling in his legs, but they continued to move at his command. He would make the site of the smoke or die trying, he thought, and Colin Mackay had no desire to die trying.He was close enough now to smell the smoke--though perhaps that was an olfactory hallucination. No ... no, it had to be real. And there was another smell now ... God in heaven, it was coffee! He refocused his entire being on that coffee, imaging the taste, the sublime bitterness, the heat in his stomach. He imagined pouring a cup of it on his legs, if that was what it took to restore the feeling.Closer, he saw that the smoke was coming out of what looked like a cave. Sherpa? he wondered. He did not know much about the tribal people who inhabited the mountainous regions of Nepal and Tibet, but he had always heard that they were village dwellers, not cave dwellers. When he was close enough to the opening, Mackay called, "Hellooooo!" and waited. Still trotting, he was about to call again, when he saw a figure emerge from ...
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