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Hyde at Large by Raymond Speer

Part One: Herbert H. Asquith shook Winston Churchill's hand and congratulated him for his rise to Home Secretary. Winston returned Asquith's firm grip and smile, knowing that the Prime Minister favored him and understood Churchil to be a star of the next generation.

Asquith gestured for Churchill to sit to his right. The other men in the room was the permanent secretary for the police force, another HQ cop and a thin, dapper little man recognized by Churchil as Senior Inspector George Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Churchill had been in his post as Home Seretary less than a week but Lestrade must have been busy with  law enforcement for nearly forty years.

"And how has Mr. Holmes been, Senior Inspector?" the Prime Minister asked the detective.

"Very cheery and content," said Lestrade. "I went out to the country and stayed with him overnight a fortnight ago."

"Did you have cases to discuss?" Churchill asked.

"Not much, aside from this substance. I left some ounces of this mater with him."

Lestrade twisted open the lid atop a whiite jar that fit in his hand. There was a translucent red wax in the container, which excluded a
pungent but not unpleasant smell like cinnamon.

"You gentlemen are of course familar with the strange case of  Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Lestrade pronounced the name in its proper fashion: Gee-Kell rather an Jeck-ell.

"That was one of Holmes' unwritten cases," said Churchill with enthusiasm. "Robert Lewis Stevenson gave the best accont of it."

"Ghastly business," commented the Prime Minister, who recalled meeting Jekyll several times in the 1880s.

"The little noted feature of the entire affair was that the success of Jekyll's formula to .. . eh, induce Mr. Hyde was dependent on a contaminant in one of the ingredients that Jekyll had used. Jekyll's misery over his inability to make the potion came from the failure to find more of the correctly contaminated ingredient,"

"Yes," said Churchill. "As I recall, Jekyll as Hyde had every pharmacy in London ransacked without finding the proper powder."

"Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill," said the police man dramatically, "this . . eh, dressing contains the fully active portion to bring about a Hyde transformation."

That was serious, thought Churchill.

"Last month, on the third ultimo, there was a very violent altercation in the East End slums. A giant of a man  killed his companion of the evening by a blow to the jaw that flung that anatomy across the room.

With no weapon but his hands, the man  killed four men and injured a dozen others. Then he grasped his heart and died of an apparent heart seizure.  Then something very odd occurred: the body of the monster shrank into someone completely different, who has been identified as a patent medicine salesman."

"I thought that Dr. Jekyll's formula was a liquid," Churchill said.

"It was," nodded Lestrade affirmatively. "Whereas this is some sort of medical pudding saturated with the active ingredients of Jekyll's inquiry. You coat a laceration with the ointment and the transformation ensues within half an hour and takes five minutes to complete."

Lestrade drew forth the portfolio of photographs he had at his side. "We know that from what happened to the cats and dogs that we experimented on. It takes only a fingerworth of ointment to transform an eighty pound dog."

The Prime Minister and Home Secretary looked at the pictures avidly. Irregular patches of wiry hair alternated with bald patches on the hides of the afflicted beasts; the muscles were swollen but irregular in size, and  the irregularity also extended to the bones of the face, presenting an unhealthy appearence. Winston Churchill recalled the famous pictures drawn of Mr. Hyde from life ---- the disfiguration was hard to describe.

Sentimental Asquith asked about the fate of the animals. Lestrade was blunt: none lived past seven or ten hours.

"Their hearts and lungs grow very loud and labored and they die inside a day. That certainly was not a feature of the drug in its first production by Henry Jeykll."

And Churchill asked:  "What if a fingerworth of the ointment is not used? What if only a tiny residue on a razor's edge is applied to a wound, or if the stuff is only swallowed or massaged into the skin?"

"Agitation, itching, nervousness, inappropriate flashes of anger, and some chest pains. Our volunteers at the Yard felt the effects several days later but they did wear away."

Curious, Churchill touched the jar.  "This stuff may have military uses," Churchill said.

Asquith:  "Never would be used by a humane commander on animals or soldiers. So many negative effects could be expected from it."

"In addition to our own chemists, I have left a specimen of the stuff with Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who may find something useful about it.  And I am keeping this mass in reserve."

Churchill asked the detective of the patent medicine salesman who had gone berserk. "He was an American and claimed to be a doctor by reason of a document from a medical school in Detroit, Michigan of the United States. His name was Hawley Crippen."

"Had he ever indicated an ability to duplicate Henry Jekyll's discoveries?"

"No, my lord," Lestrade said. "His substances for sale are shots of whisky adulterated with herbs and odors for his trade, He is not the man to come up with something like this."

"We have already searched his home and business," said the permanent secretary. "Dr Crippen had been away from his office frequently, says his secretary, and she thought that he was investigating some new type of medicine. The secretary recalls him coming back in his last months with chemical stains on his pants and waistcoat."

Churchill assured the Prime Minister that Asquith would be informed the minute there was a breakthrough in the case.

Part Two:

The small head and extremely long neck of the dinosaur turned and looked down at the Sunday crowd of children and other idliers at the London Zoo.

"How absurd!" commented Sherlock Holmes. "They put most of the animal's enclosure as a pond, based on a theory that it would spend its time
swimming. So it spends all its time on a quarter of the space alloted to it."

"'I like the three-horn shield head best," said Watson, eating handfuls of popped corn from a paper bag. "They plan to introduce the Tyranos or
at least immature ones for display at the zoo."

The division of the Zoo dedicated to the creatures of Maple White Land was likely the most popular part of the Zoo. Holmes and Watson strolled on Roxton Road, passing a brick building with an empty cage.

"I've never been more proud, Holmes, than of your stand against exhibiting the orangmen of Maple White Land as Zoo attractions."

"I worry more about slavers willing to put them in bondage," said Holmes. "I received a letter from young Willie, who has not forgotten us or his English lessons."

""Good show. How is he doing?"

"He and Janey have had a baby. They are doing quite well back in Maple White Land."

Holmes abruptly told Watson: "I saw Lestrade some time ago, and only now have received a telegram from Home Secretary Winston Churchill."

"Churchill? Yes, I know his mother, wonderful woman."

"For you, Watson, which women are not wonderful?"

The friends sat on a park bench, Holmes smoking a pipe and Watson a cigar, watching the Zoo's pilosaurs at play. Zookeepers entertained the visitors by throwing fish at the creatures.

"Damn, your solution was too good to last forever, Holmes," Watson observed. "By keeping secret the identity of the necessary contaminant, you've prevented Jekyll's potion from being another bane to the word."

"One would hardly wish such a secret in the hands of the German General Staff, or the French General Staff for that matter." And upon a thought, Holmes said: "Or held by Professor Moriarty,"

"Who do you think is behind the manufacture of that cream?"" inquired Watson.

"Based on ability and demonstrated desire to follow in Henry Jekyll's path," said Holmes, "my finger is pointed to the gentleman you called the Creeping Man."

"That Irish chemist who tried to rejuvenate himself and had episodes of derangement in which he performed as an ape could be expected to act?"

"The same. I examined his work ---- it was obvious that he began with the published portions of Jekyll's work.. Much of his project was his own creation."

"The story remains unpublished,"" Watson said (and so it would remain until 1923, thirteen years after these events). "I recall you said that you thought the Professor was mentally disturbed even without his infamous medicine and that his odd behavior had less to do with his bottle than with a curious and sad upbringing."

"I did speculate that," said Sherlock Holmes. "I may have been too dismissive of the man, too ready to retire from active practice in 1903,

"I have made further inquiries of the fellow and find that he is retired deep in the Irish countryside. Also the jar in which Lestrade found the compound is made in quantity in Limerick."

"I think that some Irish air would be capital for both of us," commented Watson.

"Exactly," summarized Holmes.

Author says this story was originally posted on the Google Discussions Group.

Raymond Speer

Guest Historian of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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