I've never been happier to see anyone than I was to see Henry Knight. Sherlock had been bored. And trust me, you don't want to be around him when he's bored. He's hyperactive, rude, arrogant and a real pain in the behind.
Yeah I know, same old Sherlock.
Henry, a normal-looking bloke in his late 20s, was clearly very anxious when he arrived at Baker Street. He told us about how, twenty years before, his dad had died. He told us how his Dad had been ripped apart by the Devil.
They'd been out for a walk on Dartmoor when they'd been attacked. Some kind of monster - big, black with red glowing eyes - had killed his father in front of him. Apparently it had taken place near the Government's Baskerville research facility. Sherlock worked out that something must have happened the previous night to make Henry suddenly ask for help that morning. Henry said that his therapist, Doctor Louise Mortimer, had suggested he revisit the location of the attack in order to put old ghosts to rest. Henry had done this and, to his horror, had discovered some footprints. Footprints that appeared to have been made by, what he called, a 'gigantic hound'. There'd been rumours that experiments on animals had been taking place at the Baskerville facility since WWII. And so, Sherlock took the case and off we went into deepest, darkest Devon.
Our first port of call was the local pub. There we found a guy who ran walks on the moors etc. He claimed to know a man from the MOD who'd once said he'd seen giant animals at a government research facility - rats as big as dogs and dogs as big as horses. It wasn't exactly irrefutable evidence but all signs did seem to be pointing at the Baskerville facility. Sherlock had some ID he'd appropriated so we were able to bluff our way in. Again, because of the Official Secrets Act, I can't talk too much about what I saw in there but, as well as seeing some of what they go up to, we met Doctor Jacqui Stapleton and the annoyingly-cheerful Doctor Bob Frankland. Stapleton, Sherlock realised, was the mother of a little girl who'd written to him recently .
We then went to see Henry at his home where he told us that something else had come back to him about the night his father died - two words: Liberty and In. Sherlock then announced his next move - we'd take Henry up to the moors that night and see if anything else attacked him. I'm not sure who was more worried about this, me or Henry.
Turns out we were both right to be worried. That night, I heard the hound. Well, I heard something. The place was so bleak and desolate but I was sure it wasn't my mind playing tricks on me. But it got worse - Sherlock and Henry saw it. Sherlock denied it at first, but back at the pub he finally admitted to me that he'd seen it. I've never seen him so shaken, so scared. He was actually terrified. We parted company and I went to interview Louise Mortimer, Henry's therapist. She was starting to open up to me when Frankland arrived, interrupting us. Things weren't going well.
The next morning, I met up with Sherlock and we discussed the previous evening. He admitted that as well as fear, the worst thing he'd felt was doubt. He'd never doubted himself before and he simply couldn't understand how he'd seen what he'd seen. Luckily, I'd already spotted a clue. A receipt for meat at the vegetarian hotel and restaurant we were staying at. When confronted, the owners admitted that they'd bought a dog to help cash in on the rising tourist trade but that they'd had it put down some time before. It certainly hadn't been what Sherlock had seen the previous night.
And therefore it certainly wasn't what I was about to see.
We returned to the base to talk to Doctor Stapleton. Before meeting up with her, though, Sherlock sent me off to look for any sign of this 'monster' , so i started in the main lab. And I was trapped when it came for me it. I could hear it... And then I saw it... I've been through some terrifying experiences in my life but that was one of the worst. Something that just seemed so unbelievable and so unstoppable... Those eyes...
And then Sherlock rescued me and revealed that I'd been drugged. I saw the hound because that's what I'd expected to see. Obviously, as a doctor, I've seen the effects of a number of different drugs but this... I hadn't just seen the hound. I'd heard it. I'd felt it getting closer. I'd felt the fear inside me...
We met up with Stapleton again and, in her lab, Sherlock examined some sugar from Henry's house. He'd noticed that both and he and Henry took sugar in their coffee which would explain why they'd seen the hound the previous night and I hadn't. It also explained why Sherlock had made me coffee that morning and put sugar in it. He'd used me as an experiment. One day, I will kill him.
There was one thing that had bothered Sherlock from the start and that was Henry's use of the word 'hound'. It was an odd word, old-fashioned. He wondered whether it was another piece of his memory trying to break through and whether it was actually an acronym he'd seen. Using the facility's computers, we managed to discover the existence of an old scientific project, indeed known as H.O.U.N.D. The project had been to design and develop a weapon that could create fear in the enemy. It had been closed down when they'd realised that prolonged exposure had caused people to lose their sanity. And where had the project been developed? Liberty, Indiana. Liberty. In. Henry had been remembering things!
Then his therapist, Louise, called. Henry had lost it. He'd turned a gun on her and fled. She was all right but she was scared about what he might do to himself. We returned to the moors, to the place where Henry's dad had been killed and there he was. He was close to killing himself. His mind just couldn't cope with all the conflicting information - what he remembered, what he thought he remembered, everything. Sherlock knew that he'd started to remember that it had actually been a man who had killed his father and not a monster. Witnessing this as a kid, he'd tried to rationalise it into something different. He'd created the hound out of the various images he'd seen - the crazed man and the acronym which his father's murderer had been wearing on a sweatshirt. H.O.U.N.D.
And then we all saw the hound again. It was coming for us. I knew, I rationalised that it wasn't real, that I was just seeing things but it was there... Coming for us...
And so was the man behind it all. Doctor Frankland. He was wearing a gasmask which told Sherlock what he needed to know - the poison, the weapon that H.O.U.N.D. had created hadn't been in the sugar. It was in the fog! We were in a chemical minefield. As the hound prepared to attack, we shot it and we saw that it was just a dog. And then Sherlock did one of the most human things I think I've ever seen him do - he made Henry look at the dog's body. He didn't need to, he'd solved the case but it was as if he knew that the truly important thing was showing Henry what was real and what wasn't. Maybe the fear and doubt he'd felt, and maybe his experiences with Irene Adler, had humanised him?
Of course, he immediately started raving on in front of Henry about what a fantastic case it had been and I realised he hadn't changed that much.
And later, I realised something else. Sherlock had thought that the poison was in the sugar at first. He'd been convinced . Sherlock had made a mistake.
He is only human, after all.
Henry was a "normal-looking bloke"? Really, John, you should become a professional author!
Sherlock Holmes 16 March 12:22
Harry Watson 16 March 12:36
It sounds as if the dog's bark was worse than its bite!
Bill Murray 16 March 12:38
Jacob Sowersby 16 March 12:40
It's certainly given me paws for thought.
Mike Stamford 16 March 13:32
Jacob Sowersby 16 March 13:34
Sherlock Holmes 16 March 13:36
Surely this is just a shaggy dog story.
Bill Murray 16 March 13:47
John, fetch me my revolver.
Sherlock Holmes 16 March 13:50
I am an experienced medical doctor recently returned from Afghanistan.