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The moment to act had arrived.

“You all know what you have to do?” I asked.

The others nodded.

“I will remain here and stand outside the house,” David said. “Should Bailey set the beast on the Trembath’s.”

“Good,” said I.

“I will come with you and Doctor Watson Mr Holmes,” Carpenter said.

I faced Mr Trembath.

“I will lead you into the trees at the bottom of the field,” he said. “Then return here, where Mrs Trembath shall wait.”

So everything was finally set.

Mr Trembath lit a lantern, led us out the house, out of the yard and down to the trees – where Watson, Carpenter and myself could hide safely – so I thought.

He then left.

From our hiding spot, I could clearly see Bailey sitting on the log with Cartwright, smoking a pipe, before a welcoming fire – totally unaware of our presence.

The dog was present too.

“Nobody make a sound,” I whispered.

Now we just had to wait and wait we did.

It was no short wait either.

We waited and waited for Bailey to act, but he didn’t. Why was he still sitting there? When was he going to make a move? Was he going to make a move?

He just sat there on the log smoking his pipe. At one point he refilled it and continued – without budging.

Then a series of events took place, which twisted the case.

At first, I saw some kind of luminous red object moving slowly towards the field, no more than three metres away and heard, what I could only describe as some strange hissing sound.

Something was alive among the trees – something other than Watson, Carpenter and myself.

Once out of the trees, the beast – whatever it was sprang over the wall and slowly made its way towards the gipsies, moving its tail from side to side.

The beast fitted David’s description entirely. It was dark blue and stood about six feet tall and twelve feet long with a large bird-like head – about two feet long, scaly skin, spidery arms ending in clawed hands, bird-like legs, a long tail and a hooked claw on each foot.

The luminous red object happened to be one of its eyes.

Bailey and Cartwright froze in terror when they saw the approaching beast and the dog began to bark loudly.

The beast gave a deafening, spine-chilling roar, which froze the blood in my veins.

The gipsies got up and moved slowly away from the beast, while the dog darted under the wagon.

I pulled out my revolver, but before I had the chance to fire at the beast, someone grabbed me around the throat from behind.

The gun fell from my hand.

“Watson, Carpenter, help me,” I said between gasps.

Watson and Carpenter came to my aid. They tried to release me, but whoever had me, was very strong and held on tight.

Unfortunately, I had no chance of preventing the grizzly event, which came next.

“What do we do?” Bailey asked Cartwright.

“We get inside wagon, as fast as possible.”

The gipsies acted as fast as they could, but the beast was faster.

Cartwright, who was in front made it into the wagon, but Bailey wasn’t so fortunate.

When Bailey was halfway up the steps, the beast grabbed his right leg with its jaws and dragged him screaming, back to the ground.

Then came the spine-chilling, unearthly shrieks and ferocious roars of the beast and the agonizing screams of Bailey, as he was eaten alive.

The tail of the beast writhed as it very quickly devoured the insides of its helpless victim, who soon passed out.

But it didn’t end there, because the beast continued eating its prey, until there was no flesh left.

All that remained was a very badly fractured skeleton and shredded clothing.

Then there came a short, high whistle and the beast went slowly back into the trees. That meant only one thing.

A person – unknown, was nearby.

After that, the grip around my neck loosened and I was able to free myself.

I then heard a strong scuffle behind me – followed by the sound of footsteps moving away.

“What now Holmes?” Watson asked.

“I want to examine the remains.”

Watson, Carpenter and myself entered the field and went over to the remains, which were clearly visible in the firelight.

It was a horrendous sight.

The ribcage was all broken – like a ship wreck, both arms and a leg had been wrenched from their sockets and the shredded clothes and footwear were all stained with wet blood. The skeleton was bloody and pot-marked with teeth marks and more blood lay all around the leftovers.

Those remains were of the very man whom I had suspected for being behind the evil in the area.

My theories had all been in vain.

Cartwright came out of the wagon.

He looked in surprise at us first, then set eyes on the ghastly remains of Bailey.

Never had I seen anyone look so terrified.

“I’m sorry it has come to this,” said I.

“I – I was too afraid to help him,” Cartwright said.

“I know,” said I.

“Well, I won’t be hanging round here much longer,” Cartwright said. “This will haunt me the rest of my life.”

“What will you do?” asked Watson.

“I’ll travel, like I’ve always done. However, my life will never be the same again – not after this.”

“I think it’s best if you come to the house first and explain this to the Trembath’s.”

“Very well Mr Holmes.”

Cartwright accompanied Watson, Carpenter and myself back to the house.

The Trembath’s were of course surprised to see Cartwright.

“Is it over Mr Holmes?” Mrs Trembath asked, when we were all in the living room.

“I’m afraid not. Far from it in fact.”

“What happened Mr Holmes?” asked Mr Trembath.

I told the Trembath’s everything.

“So, it’s back to square one,” Watson said.

“Indeed it is,” said I. “My theories have all been for nothing.”

“Do you still believe the beast to be out of the supernatural realm Mr Holmes?” Mrs Trembath asked.

“I don’t know. If I had shot it, I would have known.”

“With this turn of events, we may never solve this mystery,” Carpenter said.

David suddenly came in.

I told him everything.

“What now Mr Holmes?” he said.

“Now, I want to rest.”

So did Watson and Carpenter.

“You can all stay here,” said Mrs Trembath.

“Even me?” Cartwright asked.

“Yes,” replied Mrs Trembath. “Even you.”

We all thanked the Trembath’s and settled down for the rest of the night.

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2 Nov, 2021
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