The Case of the Lunchtime Abduction--Conclusion
Next Thursday night, Shirley was on her computer in the attic. She was trying to find web sites with information about ENIGMA. Unfortunately, the information she found so far was of little value.
Shirley looked at Watson, who was lying next to her. "Inspector Hewitt was right. Not much on these guys, I'm afraid," she said to him. Watson let out a tired whimper.
Shirley smiled at Watson, then heard a beep from her computer. "E-mail? At this time of night?"
Shirley accessed her e-mail and found one new message. She noticed that there was no sender name and that it had a sound file attachment only and no text. She read the subject. "'This snake's bite will cause illness.'"
Shirley stared at the screen. She had a good idea who had sent the e-mail.
* * * * *
The next day, Shirley and Bo found Molly next to the lockers. She looked better now; she had normal skin tone and she was no longer deathly thin. A crowd of students was asking her questions about her ordeal. Molly was enjoying being the center of attention; she answered the questions as best as she could.
"Looks like Molly's back to normal," Bo told Shirley.
Shirley walked up to Molly after the crowd dispersed. "Interesting," she said. "There are two things I have to tell you that concern last week."
"And what would they be, Holmes?" Molly asked.
"One, you look rather well," Shirley pointed out. "You're acting normally. That's a big difference from last week."
"Oh, Daddy took me to a therapist," Molly revealed. "He helped me get over being kidnapped and all that."
"Must have been a hypnotist," Bo remarked. "I thought that you'd be gone for a few weeks to recuperate."
Molly gave Bo an icy stare. "I'm all right, okay?" She returned her attention to Shirley. "What else do you have to say, Holmes?"
"Well, even though your plan was not executed, you were still able to get your parents over here," Shirley said.
"Plan? What plan?" Molly asked, looking innocent.
Shirley took out the fax from the acting agency Molly tried to hire and showed it to her. "Sherlock loves your little fax programs, by the way," she told Molly with a grin.
After reading it over, Molly glared at Shirley. "What do you want?"
"Now that you mention it, you can propose some fair cuts in the school budget at today's TSAC meeting," Shirley said, putting away the fax.
"I see," Molly said. "I'll refrain from my attacks on the Science Club, then."
"Good idea," Bo said, smiling.
Molly scowled at Bo and opened her locker. Blake walked up to Shirley and Bo. "Hi, guys," he greeted.
"Hi, Blake," Bo said.
Molly looked inside the locker, then froze. Shirley saw that Molly was shaking a little. Molly stepped back from her locker, her lip trembling.
Molly turned to Blake. "Uh, Blake, can you get my books, please?" she asked him, trying to stay calm.
"Sure, Molly. Just point them out," Blake replied.
Molly pointed to some books and Blake got them for her. "Thanks, Blake," Molly said, breathing a little rapidly. She took off quickly without closing her locker.
Shirley closed Molly's locker. "I don't think that therapist cured Molly completely," she told her friends.
* * * * *
"I'm still amazed that your dad convinced Tremain to keep us out of his report," Bo told Blake during lunch.
"It's a gift my dad has," Blake remarked. "We're still the unknown Good Samaritans."
"It's fortunate for us that our families still believe that your dad took us out for pizza," Shirley said.
"Yeah, but it was true," Blake said, grinning. "It was good pizza."
"So how did the final analysis of the dummy go?" Shirley asked Blake.
"I'm afraid the police couldn't get anything else out of it," Blake replied, sounding defeated. "They did determine that there was electronic stuff in the dummy that enabled it to move its head and to broadcast Mr. E's voice, but it's all melted gunk now. They say that some sort of thermal generator did it."
"Looks like ENIGMA's determined to cover its tracks," Bo said.
"You don't become the most powerful criminal organization in the world by making mistakes," Shirley said.
Molly marched up to Shirley's table. "Okay, Holmes, what did you do to my site?" she demanded in a low voice, leaning toward Shirley.
"What are you talking about, Molly?" Shirley asked. Blake pretended not to pay attention.
"It seems that while I was undergoing therapy, my Y site's been taken off." Molly glared at Shirley. "Did you have your friend Sherlock take it off the Web?"
"No," Shirley answered.
"Well, whoever did will pay dearly," Molly said, clenching her teeth. She left in a huff.
"Whoa. I guess Molly's still got a mean streak," Bo said, watching Molly leave.
Shirley looked at Blake. "Did you...?"
"Uh, no," Blake replied. "I've been paying attention to school and that dummy."
"I thought so." Shirley took out a tape recorder. "I have a good idea who did."
"What's that?" Bo asked, looking at the tape recorder.
"Something I recorded last night from an anonymous e-mail." Shirley pressed the "play" button. "Its subject was 'This snake's bite will cause illness.'"
"ENIGMA?" Blake asked.
"ENIGMA," Shirley said, nodding.
They all heard eerie music. "Chance!" the tape began, followed with evil laughter. "Chance!" Then came more evil laughter. "No chance, 'cause that's what you've got..."
"I don't know what this song is, but the message is clear," Shirley said as the song played on.
Bo and Blake listened for a while. "The Corporate Ministry!" they said together, recognizing the song.
Shirley raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"The Corporate Ministry," Blake said. "It's a now-defunct group of heels in the World Wrestling Federation."
"That song is their entrance theme," Bo added.
Shirley looked at both Bo and Blake. "You both watch professional wrestling?" she asked, sounding surprised.
"Yeah!" Bo and Blake said excitedly.
The song continued. "...It's just a matter of time. 'Cause you've got no chance! No chance! No chance in hell! You've got no chance! No chance! No chance in hell!..."
"I think our lives just got a lot more complicated," Bo told Shirley. Blake nodded in agreement.
* * * * *
In his office at ENIGMA headquarters, Mr. E, clad in his uniform and wearing his dark glasses, looked through Molly's Y web site on his computer. "My, my, Hardy is such a gossip," he said, amused.
Nigel, Mr. E's English butler, looked over his employer's shoulder. "She is rather adept at digging up dirt on people, sir," he commented.
"Indeed," Mr. E said, still looking at the site. "I recall that her parents took her to see a hypnotist?"
"A well-known one, sir," Nigel acknowledged. "He's been called on by those in the upper class to get rid of bad experiences."
"Judging from what our spies have observed, he did a good job," Mr. E said. "Looks like Hardy the manipulative sociopath is back."
"His success rate is about ninety-five percent," Nigel said.
Mr. E thought for a moment. "Hmmm, a possibility that Hardy isn't fully recovered...lovely," he said, smiling.
Number One entered the office. He stepped in front of Mr. E's desk, beat his left breast, and rose his fist into the air. "ENIGMA forever!" he said.
Mr. E looked up at his second-in-command. "Ah, Number One. Something to report?"
Number One cleared his throat and steadied his nerves. "Our client is very displeased about not having the ruby ring in his possession," he said. "He wants his preliminary payment back."
"So he wants a refund, hmm?" Mr. E leaned back in his chair, scratching his chin. "Have him killed. Make it look like an accident."
Number One nodded. "At once, sir."
Mr. E returned his focus to his computer. "Have you finished adding the information on Holmes, her family, her friends, and Redington to our master computer?" he asked Number One.
"The task has been completed," Number One answered.
"Including the data collected from this recent mission?"
"It has just been added." Number One tugged at his collar nervously. "Sir, permission to ask you a few things."
"I've noticed that you're taking this failure rather well, sir."
"Well, Number One, I've achieved my main goal," Mr. E replied. "What else do you have to ask?"
"Well, sir, why exactly are we considering this teen-age girl in a small Canadian city a threat to ENIGMA?" Number One asked out of curiosity.
"She's a Holmes, Number One," Mr. E said vehemently. "Do you need any further explanation?"
"No, sir. I understand," Number One gathered all his courage for another question. "Er, sir, if you don't mind me asking you..."
Mr. E looked at Number One. "I do," he said, slightly annoyed.
Number One gulped. "Well, anyway, during this operation, you were rather cruel to that Hardy girl. You ordered her to be starved and locked into a box with a blindfold. Now you've stolen her web site. Just out of curiosity, why?"
Mr. E smiled. "Because I can," he said coldly. He glared at his second-in-command. "Are you questioning my decisions, Number One?"
"N-no, sir!" Number One quickly blurted out, knowing what happened to those who dared to question the ENIGMA leader. He recalled what Mr. E did to the previous Number One. It was not a pretty sight.
"Good, Number One. Very good," Mr. E said, returning his attention to the computer. "If there is no more business to discuss, you may go."
Number One nodded, then left the office. He was very glad to do so.
"Well, Nigel, he's brought up a good point. I must return Hardy's site," Mr. E said. He started typing on the keyboard and using the mouse. A moment later, the site was gone. "Ah, there we go. Hardy has her site back. No threat of anyone tracing its theft back to me thanks to the many relays I use."
"Very kind of you, sir," Nigel said.
"Why, thank you, Nigel," Mr. E said. "I even added a little surprise."
"Computer virus?" Nigel asked.
"Naturally," Mr. E replied, grinning mischievously.
"The same one you once sent to that bully you once knew in Japan? His name was Bill something or other, I believe."
"Oh, no, Nigel. This one's different. The one I sent to Hardy will lie dormant for a week. If anyone tries to access her site, the virus will spread to his or her computer. If it is not properly disposed of, the virus will activate after a week, causing the computer to overheat and its inner components will melt."
"Sounds like a nasty piece of work, sir," Nigel commented.
"It is." Mr. E accessed ENIGMA's master computer and brought up a file labeled "HOLMES, SHIRLEY." He displayed a text file containing all collected information on Shirley and a recent picture of the junior detective. "Now, to more important matters..."
Nigel looked at the computer screen. "The Holmes girl, sir?"
"Exactly, Nigel." Mr. E leaned back in his chair, staring at the picture. "This young lady is attempting to follow in her famous ancestor's footsteps. This has been proven to be a problem for ENIGMA. She's brilliant, tenacious, and resourceful. Very bad news for us."
"Your grandfather and the other Mr. E's never had to deal with anyone from the Holmes clan," Nigel recalled.
"I know, Nigel. They were lucky, I guess." Mr. E sighed. "It must be fate. Mother was always so fatalistic. She always took whatever came her way in stride, whether it was good or bad." He cupped his chin and looked thoughtful. "Maybe that's why she looked so peaceful when the military police found her body in the wreckage after the car crash. Father was the exact opposite; he looked positively frightened." He smiled. "He was always a coward at heart. Jerk got what he deserved."
"How true, sir," Nigel said.
Mr. E glared at the picture of Shirley on the screen. "They will take care of this nuisance for me, Nigel," he declared, clenching his fist.
"Are you sure that it is wise to use them to deal with Miss Holmes?" Nigel inquired.
"Lesser agents have failed me, Nigel," Mr. E replied. "They will not."
"Will you use them all at once or separately?"
"Whatever the situation calls for, Nigel. Most certainly not just because of my hatred for the girl," Mr. E answered. "I think we should spread word of our services to Redington, don't you think, Nigel?"
"A sound idea, sir."
"After all, we can't have people thinking that ENIGMA has its own agenda," Mr. E said, grinning malevolently. He picked up a metal box from his desk and looked at it. It had keys with all the letters of the alphabet on its lid.
"So, sir, do you think you'll be able to deal with this little problem?" Nigel asked.
Mr. E smiled. "It's just a matter of time, Nigel." He looked at Shirley's picture, then studied the box closely. "It's all just a matter of time."