Friday, November 9, 2012

CWA: It's Elementary, Doctor Watson

Fog again. You sigh. The last time the cruise ship was in a mist of fog you were on your way to a mysterious island where a female convict was going to give you a tour of her "Special" island. Yeah, it was special alright. You still won't forget how you almost died in that blitz attack. But thankfully the military escorting you and the rest of your cruise mates didn't allow any harm to come to you. 

You shiver as a stream of cold air passed through the hallway. You would recognize that slight chill anywhere. The ship must have travelled through a time portal. It was wild the way you were beginning to notice the differences between traveling through the time portal, a slip portal that slipped you through different dimensions,  when the ship was flying or when it was acting like a real cruise ship. Each method has it's own unique feel to it. Maybe this cruise wasn't a bad idea after all. 
"Ladies and gentlemen, please remain inside as we begin our descent upon London. The fog is thick today and we want to ensure your safety. We will be landing on the Thames River. We have provided the proper attire for your visit today. If everyone would look in their wardrobe you should find your attire. Please dress in the clothes we have provided. Anyone who is not wearing them will not be allowed off the boat. You have one hour to prepare. And when we disembark from our vessel there will be a way for you to return to the ship until the tour has concluded. The ship will be invisible. The thickness of the fog will ensure no one of this time period is able to see us leave our vessel. Please no camera, cell phones or other electrical devices. They were no invited yet and we do not need to cause any curiosity or we risk disrupting our own timeline. Thank you," Tasha ordered over the speaker.

You stop in the hall as you hear a child beside you scream with delight. You peer to your left. A young girl jumps up and down with a white Victorian dress in her hand. Victorian? London? You smile thinking. Could it be, Watson? The cruise ship has taken you to meet Sherlock Holmes?

London Fog by gwire

John H. Watson MD meets you at the station and escorts you to the rooms in 221B Baker-street that he shares with the consulting detective, Mr. Sherlock Holmes

I would like to bid you a very warm welcome to London. Yes, I fear that it is a trifle foggy, and the smoke is a little thick at times. You may care to wrap the muffler around your nose and mouth. Many people find this of assistance.

Please also take note of where you place your feet. My warning came too late, it would appear. I am sorry about this. The crossing-sweepers of today are an idle bunch of rogues, and the constant traffic of carriages and omnibuses inevitably means that the horses will leave their offerings in the most inconvenient places. Mrs. Hudson will take your boots when we arrive at Baker-street, never fear.
The Underground will take us there in no time, and you will find no horses to further dirty your boots. The Metropolitan Line of the underground railway is a little smoky, but even so, it is convenient. Yes, it is the first of its kind in the world. We are very proud of it here in London.

Now if you will just leave your boots here, Mrs. Hudson will clean them for you presently. Up the seventeen stairs, and we will go into the room. Mr. Holmes is absent at the moment, but allow me to move the violin off the chair for you to sit and make yourself comfortable.
There. A cup of tea, or something a little stronger, perhaps? Tea? I will ring for Mrs. Hudson in that case. A cigar? Yes? Perhaps the coal-scuttle is a slightly eccentric location for cigars, but I can assure you that they taste none the worse for it. Pray do feel free to examine the accoutrements of the room while we await our refreshment.

Ah, you are admiring the wall with the decoration of VR in bullet-marks. Handsome, do you not think? I am afraid that these did annoy the neighbours somewhat when Mr. Holmes whiled away an afternoon with a box of cartridges and his hair-trigger pistol. Maybe eccentric, I agree, but he is one of the great men of our age, and I think much may be forgiven genius, do you not agree?
Mrs. Hudson, some tea, and some of your admirable seed-cake, if you would be so kind.
Now where was I? Ah yes, you are admiring the bookshelves. An eclectic collection, is it not? No, please do not attempt to rearrange them. I remember doing just that once, and incurring the wrath of Sherlock Holmes.

The lens is a very fine instrument, which Mr. Holmes had imported from Germany. The snuff box is a gift from a grateful client whose name I am not at liberty to divulge.
I would strongly advise you not to touch that flask on the table there. It contains bichloride of mercury, and it is part of a particularly delicate experiment connected with the Camberwell poisoning case. Oh, I perceive that you did handle that apparatus. In that case, I would advise you to wash your hands well before partaking of the tea and cake which I now hear Mrs. Hudson bringing to us.

Hugh Ashton came from the UK to Japan in 1988 to work as a technical writer, and has remained in the country ever since. He still makes his living by putting words on paper (or to be more precise, words onto a computer screen), but in a slightly different field. He now writes commentaries and reports on business, specialising in the financial and technology fields, and conducts interviews with Japanese industry leaders, etc.

However, when he can find time, one of his main loves is writing fiction, which he has been doing since he was about eight years old. It has only been recently, though, that he has seen his fictional words in print. His alternate history novel, Beneath Gray Skies, set in a world where the American Civil War never took place, and the Confederates of the 1920s make an alliance with the German National Socialist party, was received to critical acclaim. At the Sharpe End, an account of life in Tokyo set against the backdrop of the 2008 Wall Street crash, and featuring gangsters, with British, American and North Korean agents, all in pursuit of a piece of technology that could change the financial world, has been described as one the most authentic accounts in contemporary fiction of expatriate life in Tokyo. Red Wheels Turning, set in the same alternate history universe as Beneath Gray Skies, followed in 2011.
As a long-time admirer of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, Hugh has often wanted to complete the canon of the stories by writing the stories which are tantalizingly mentioned in passing by Watson, but never published. His latest offering of three such stories brings Sherlock Holmes to life again, with one reviewer remarking that “my beloved Sherlock was portrayed with great skill”, and another that “Ashton nails the mannerisms of both Holmes and Watson to a tee as well as weaving a mystery that rivals that of, dare I say it? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, himself”.

More Sherlock Holmes stories from the same source are definitely on the cards, as Hugh continues to recreate 221B Baker Street from the relatively exotic location of Kamakura, Japan, a little south of Tokyo.

Beneath Gray Skies (and blog on publishing and writing) –

At the Sharpe End –

Red Wheels Turning –

Check out all of Hugh's books at

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