It had been several hours since the young mouse, Olivia Flaversham, witnessed a scene no child should ever have to face: the abduction of her beloved father. The scene played so vividly in her mind; it was as if it were happening all over again. She was placed in a cupboard for safety, but that did not stop her from watching the horror of the unexpected attack. Her father was viciously thrown to the ground, bound and gagged by a fierce peg-legged bat, and finally dragged out into the cold, dark night. The scene repeated itself over, each time more in slower motion. Her father's eyes were wide with terror and his shouts for help deafened her ears.
With a gasp, Miss Flaversham sat up and blinked wildly to her surroundings. She was alone in a dark bedroom with no sign of life around her. Looking down, she could see she was fully clothed with her shoes resting at the foot of the bed. It suddenly came back to her. She was at the home of the famous detective in all of mousedom: Basil of Baker Street. That kind mouse, Dr. Dawson, brought her here to investigate the kidnapping of her father. The night grew late and she was sent to rest in one of the spare bedrooms. The detective was still not agreeable to taking her case. What more could she do to convince him? Miss Flaversham slowly climbed down from the bed, applied her shoes, and tip-toed out into the main sitting room.
The room was very quiet with only the light of the fire from the fireplace. The wood crackled softly with the flames causing a display of dancing shadows on the walls. The room appeared empty as Miss Flaversham entered further to have a look around. The green chair was unoccupied and it seemed would be the same for the red chair as she moved closer to look around to the front of it. Pausing at the back of the red chair, she noticed a trail of smoke lifting upward. Another wave of smoke followed as she peered her neck around the small table to see who was sitting in the chair. It was the detective, eyes closed and smoking quietly on his pipe. His position, however, was nothing like she had ever seen before. He was sitting upside-down with his shoes resting against the back of the chair, every so often puffing out a trail of smoke into the air. Finding the courage to speak up, Miss Flaversham finally addressed him.
"I am extraordinarily busy if you don't mind," he snapped without opening his eyes.
"But...but, you're just sitting there."
"Hmph. It is expected of you to see the plain obvious. To you, I am just sitting here, but that is not all I am doing." Inhaling on his pipe, he sighed the smoke out leisurely. "I am...thinking..." Miss Flaversham nodded and remained silent for a brief moment. Inhaling on the pipe again, he asked, "It is a bit early to rise, is it not?"
Bowing her head, Miss Flaversham whispered, "Yes, but, I...I couldn't sleep." Basil's eyes flickered open and he frowned to her from an upside-down view. Moving to the footrest, she sat down upon it and continued. "I mean, the room was nice and I appreciate you and Mrs. Judson allowing me to stay here for the night, but, I...I started to think about...um-"
"No need to explain yourself, my dear," he softly interrupted. "After what you have witnessed, troubled visions haunting your subconscious is not uncommon."
"Y-yes," she nodded, feeling a little embarrassed to reply. "I-it, it was...a bit of a...a nightmare."
"But, of course," Basil said as he started to sit more properly in the chair. "It was a nightmare of your father's abduction no doubt." He received a second nod.
"Y-yes, it was. Y-you see, it was my birthday yesterday. Daddy was giving me my present, and then...that bat came and took him away." She looked up to watch the detective lean forward in his chair with gathered hands. By then, his expression had changed from irritation to mild sympathy. "He ruined everything."
"Indeed he did," Basil nodded solemnly.
"What was his name again?"
"Fidget," he replied with a hint of resentment in his tone. "Yes, I would say he is definitely the one and the same who works for Professor Ratigan. A rather nasty fiend who would do whatever the no good sewer rat asks of him. The kidnapping of a toymaker does seem very odd. In fact, it is a scheme I am still trying to come to some sort of reasoning." Pausing, he looked down to see her eyes filling with tears. Clearing his throat, he added, "Er, perhaps your father's skills are more advanced than the average toymaker, thus leading to another plot of much bigger and more dangerous consequences?"
"I- I don't know," Miss Flaversham cried, lowering her face into her palms. "I...I just want my daddy back." Basil rolled his eyes and shook his head to her sudden wave of sorrow. A few seconds of silence passed before he rose to his feet and stood alongside her, bending slightly to tap at her shoulder.
"Yes...yes, I know you do, my dear, and I suppose that...well, since this case of yours does in fact involve my nemesis, I...um, I...just might consider taking it."
Miss Flaversham sniffed and lifted her head up to him. "Really? Will you take the case for me?"
"Well, um...I -" At that moment, the clock on the mantel began to chime three times. "Oh...the witching hour is already upon us..." Basil looked over to the clock, then back to her with an expression of gentle sternness. "It is also an hour when young children such as yourself really ought to be in bed."
"But, but, my case-"
"Can be further discussed at a later time. All right?" Basil once more placed a hand to her shoulder to lightly push her off the footrest. Miss Flaversham obeyed with a nod and started to walk away toward the door. Basil caught a wounded gaze and tried to think of something positive to say to end their conversation. "Oh, and um...by the way..." she turned to him and he replied, "Happy Birthday, Miss Flamershame."
"It's Flaversham," she pouted, yet she could not help but smile to the flub.
Basil shrugged and turned to face the hearth. "Whatever."
"Thank you, Mr. Basil," Miss Flaversham said, receiving a mere nod in return. "Goodnight."
"Mm-hmm," he replied without looking. Hearing the door close, he heavily sighed. "I must take the case, if not for her, then most definitely for myself to conquer Ratigan once and for all!"