Time seemed to stand still in the small, dark room that Basil now inhabited. There was no daytime, and thus no nighttime either. At no point did anybody come with food, not even scraps, so there was no knowing when mealtimes were. In his delirious state, however, Basil did not notice his hunger, or much else. He was dead to the world, and only his occasional loud sigh showed that he was conscious, or even alive. Barely blinking, barely breathing, the mouse of notorious conceit lay prone on the cold stone floor, consumed utterly by his own failure to anticipate the possibility of hostility towards him and the bitter knowledge that Ratigan had come out on top.
What a sight the genteel detective was now; haggard, emaciated and covered in dirt and bloodstains, patches of fur sticking to his torn clothing, blank green stare being the only semblance of life in the gaunt features.
Dawson wouldn't be worried, of course he wouldn't. He was probably used to Basil's habit of disappearing on a case for days by now. That fact, of course, was more a blow than a comfort, but then, what would his friend think of him if he could see the great sleuth like this? ... Actually, come to think of it, Dawson had seen him in a severe low before, hadn't he? In another of Ratigan's traps, no less. Yet... instead of disowning Basil's friendship, Dawson had encouraged him to regain his senses, and they had ended up escaping. If Dawson were here now...
He would say the very same.
The life came back into Basil's green eyes all of a sudden as he seemed suddenly to regain full consciousness with a determined and triumphant grin. With a little bit of thought, this prison would be nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Hmm. From the smell of it, this place was the cellar of a low-class public house. That made this even easier, of course. Groping around on the floor with his spare hand, the mouse found what he was looking for in a gap between two of the flagstones. The edges if it were still sharp - excellent.
With no fear, Basil made a cut down the back of his shackled wrist, away from the blood vessels and nowhere near deep enough to cause any lasting damage. The blood stuck his fur together, but slid against the metal chains, and, with much wriggling, the detective managed to wrestle his hand free of the manacle. Rubbing his sore arm, Basil moved quietly up to the door, running long nimble fingers over the handle and the lock.
... It wasn't locked!? What on earth -? Was Ratigan slipping? Forgotten to lock the door? It didn't really seem like a very Ratigan thing to do, but... well, there was no point complaining. Basil carefully snuck up the stairs, keeping to the shadows and looking around furtively. Just as he had suspected, the building over the cellars was a seedy, run down public house; not at all hard to sneak out of, what with most of the occupants being either paralytic or absorbed with fighting each other.
That meant that there was only one pressing problem left to face before the safe return to Baker Street: his clothes, or lack thereof. In midwinter, in Mousetorian London, it was not customary to wander about the streets clad in ripped garments and stiff with dried blood and dust. Should he spend too long in the cold, he could suffer pneumonia or hypothermia and very well lose his life, but were he to take known shortcuts down back alleyways, a handsome bachelor like he dressed as he was would be beset upon by all manner of whores and vipers, the very scum of London's night. Whomsoever had drugged him had taken the liberty of removing all his valuables from the pockets of his coat, which left him with no money to hire a hansom. This was... most inconvenient.
Basil was on the verge of giving up hope of a solution to this problem when a large apron hanging on a hook by the bar caught his eye. Well, well. That would suffice. Sneaking an empty glass from the bar, the detective threw it to the other side, between the wall and the table nearest, to distract the innkeeper's attention while he spirited the apron from its hook, wrapping it about himself and stealing away into the cold.
As fast as fury, the detective hurried his way through main, well-lit roads to Baker Street. To his great and pleasant surprise, the pub he had ended up in was just on the outskirts of the Soho sector of Central London, on the other side of New Oxford Street to Baker Street, but still only a short walk away. It was with great relief that Basil knocked upon the door of 221 1/2 Baker Street and saw Dawson's curious face as the stout doctor opened the door.
"Good grief! Basil!" Dawson's eyes took in the beer-stained apron, the ragged clothes, the tired eyes and bloody fur as he let the sleuth back into his house. "What on Earth happened? Come come, now, sit down, we must clean that before it becomes infected!"
"Foul business afoot, old fellow." Basil exhaled as he sank into one of the high-backed armchairs in front of the fire, closing his eyes as the doctor brought a small tin kettle of water from the kitchen and began to heat it over the fire, wetting an old cloth with it to gently mop at the scabbing wounds over his chest and wrist. "It seems that I have another case on my hands."
"Not before time! I wondered when you were going to do something about this, Basil. It's all over the papers, you know."
"... Dawson, I -" Basil winced as his wrist stung in protest against the warm water, "I believe we are talking at cross-purposes. About which case are you speaking?"
The good doctor obligingly placed the cloth down and fetched a recent newspaper for his detective friend, turning it to the correct page, where the headline 'Queen's Detective Serves Only Royalty'.
"'The hero of the infamous attempted usurping of the throne of England, detective Basil of Baker Street, has recently shown his true colours,'" Basil read aloud from the article, "'It appears that this supersleuth only offers his services to those able and willing to pay large amounts of money or great honours. In light of the recent medal awarded to him by Queen Mousetoria for his foiling of the plan to take over the monarchy, conceived and executed by notorious criminal Professor P Ratigan, Basil of Baker Street has all but disappeared as a crime-fighting service. Following the reports of the recent murders, many sources, including one of our own journalists, have called upon the famous detective, and have all been told the same thing: Basil of Baker Street is indisposed and is not able to see you.' ... Is this true, Dawson?"
"I fear they exaggerate the numbers a little with their wording, but there were indeed a substantial number of callers last week while you were away. I assumed you would have known about them, of course..." Dawson replied from the vicinity of Basil's chest, where he was again tending the claw mark.
"A week? Are you quite sure? I thought it could be no more than two, maybe three days."
"By no means, Basil. You've been gone for six days." The doctor wrang the water from his cloth onto the fire, standing back to take a look at his friend. "By George. You look as if you are in good need of a square meal. Come, now. I'll ask Mrs Judson to cook something up. Besides, if these blasted murders aren't the cases to which you were referring, what is?"
"It concerns our mutual associate Professor Ratigan. Unfortunately, it seems that he also survived the fall from St Stephen's Tower." The Baker Street supersleuth, through half-closed eyes, lazily watched Dawson apply a bandage to his chest.
"Confound that beast!" Dawson expostulated fiercely, which caused Basil to give a little chuckle. "You are still able to laugh about this? I envy you. I doubt things have ever looked worse for you, really I do."
Basil felt himself dozing off, despite himself. It had been a long six days and he was, quite frankly, exhausted. Add that to the lack of food, the stress and this news of his public denouncement and the result was that he could barely keep his eyes open.
"I shall deal with it presently, I'm sure. After a good long nap..."