Whispers in the Dark

Chapter seven

It was dark, like the inside of a closed box or in the tunnel of a mole, only this time it was at a much larger scale. And there were voices, voices that seemed to be coming from all around her, yet from nowhere at the same time. Some of them seemed to be talking about the weather, others about their mother-in-laws. It was complete chaos, for none of this made any actual sense…

Wrong one again… said a deep, strong and disappointed voice. How hard can it be to find one perfect pupa, you stupid rodent! It was barely a whisper, but somehow, that one voice seemed to dominate all the others.

"We are doing all we can, my lord." Another voice had answered it, much louder, yet less strong as the first.

Well, "all you can" is not quite enough! Must I remind you that we must find the pupa before the gates are sealed? Hmm?

"No, my lord."

See that you don't. Now, go and find another candidate, and ask the gyðja for another skin. And make sure you mention that I want a strong one this time. I barely managed to keep the old one from burning long enough for…

"My lord?"

But the whisper never returned. Instead, the darkness seemed to bend out of shape and reveal something that should not be seen by mortal eyes. And then, without a warning, two bloody eyes appeared right in front of her.

Basil woke up with a gasp. Her heart was racing and her breath was coming in quick, uneven breaths. What a confusing dream, or dare she call it nightmare? She was not certain, for it was nothing frightening, per say, but whatever it was, it won't let her fall asleep again.

Speaking of sleeping, how did she actually fall asleep in the first place? She didn't remember going to bed. In fact, the last thing she remembered was looking for Dawson and… This was not her room.

Poor, shaggy drippings were partially hiding the dark wooden walls and a human napkin seemed to take the place of a carpet. Cardboard boxes and pieces of stray seemed to be taking up the role of a bed and furniture and from what her eyes could tell her, the pale, shy light that made it possible for her to see came from a large window.

Slowly she tried to get back on her feet, almost falling back down when her knees bucked underneath her weight. In doing so, it occurred to her that she had somehow fallen asleep on the floor, right in front of the door. Also, from the odd taste in her mouth it appeared the she had cried herself to sleep…

Then, almost instantly, memories of past events came back to her. She remembered that group or rats, she remembered going into the human villa of Regent Park, remembered accidentally breaking a vase, remembered Dawson in a birdcage and above all others, she remembered Ratigan.

It seemed too impossible to be real. In fact it was impossible. All the laws of physics were proving the exact opposite of what she had witnessed with her own two eyes, but even so, she could not ignore the fact that Ratigan was indeed alive and well.

… and she, Basil of Baker Street, agreed to be his trophy.

"Good job, girl…" she murmured to herself, stretching and bending her stiff limbs and back as much as her poor body would allow it. It wasn't a pleasant thing to do, especially since her right arm was troubling her again, but Dawson told her that in situations such as this, it was necessary. After all, she didn't want to suffer from rheumatism at old age, now did she?

Still, even after her routine stretching exercises the aching of her right arm still didn't subside. It wasn't actually painful – more like annoying – but it was still bothering her, and she wasn't ready to add a bad arm to her growing list of unpleasantries. It was when she finally approached the window that she came aware of two things. One: it was snowing, thus explaining her bad arm; and two: she was very high up.

"Oh, God…" one step back, then another, then another until her back touched the door. Ratigan had a very twisted sense of humor. A run-down room… she could live with that, but a room this high up?!

"Buzz…" It must have been for the first time that she was glad to hear that noise; mostly because it served as a nice distraction. And the fact that it was coming from outside her room was a pretty bonus.


Peaking through the keyhole, she first spotted Fidget snoring soundly, an empty bottle of Rodent's Delight in his lap – Bright and alert as always… – and right next to him, the little bee-menace… who was holding up a key?

"Bee? What are you doing out there?! Are you trying to get yourself killed? Wait… Are you trying to get me killed?" The bee shook its head at that and made a sign using a free pair of 'hands'. The little menace was using sign language! "Open the door?" Basil asked, unable to believe exactly what she was seeing. Before her brain was actually able to process the information, the bee started signing again:

"Because you're locked in and all alone. It's not fun being locked up. Especially not alone. Me knows you not like me, but me likes you. Me wants to help you."

Curious, she kept watching at the little insect. It flew up to the key hole then and waved at her with a hand before proceeding in sticking the key in its hole and unlocking the door. Basil was impressed.

"Seems you're not such a dumb creature after all… tolerable even you you're not working on transforming my life into a living hell" She told the insect in a whisper after she had opened the door for it (couldn't afford waking the bat, after all). For once, she didn't mind it throwing itself at her chest as if it was cuddling her. In fact, that strange habit of it actually made her giggle.

"Yes, you're a regular thinker when you want to, aren't you?" she asked it then, pulling the thing at arm's length to take a better look at her. A though just accrued to her then. "Hmm … you know, that actually seems to suit you. And since – despite my earlier attempts to get rid of you – it appears that we'll be stuck here for a while, I can't really keep calling you bee, now can I? So, how does 'Thinker' sound for a name? It might even remind you that you need to use your brain for once in a while."

The bee looked thoughtful for a moment before joyously nodding its head. Yes, Thinker seemed to like its new name.

"Very well then, Thinker it is." She smiled. At least she wasn't completely alone anymore.

"Thank you, mama."

Half an hour later, the bee was busy buzzing around the room, building up her skills. It looked pleased with itself and it had every reason to do so. After all, it did get the mouse everybody call Basil to accept her (although not quite under the circumstances it hoped it would happen). Big Mouse asked Tinker to take care of the one everyone called Basil; also said not to let her know he asked it to do so. Now, that was not hard for Thinker, because Thinker really liked Basil, despite first impressions. The mouse reminded it of its queen: proud, strong, stubborn and noble – for a true honey bee such as Thinker, it was impossible not to like such a person and wish to protect her, no matter how hard Basil had scolded and explained to her that she was not its mama.

Completely oblivious to Thinker's line of thinking was Basil who was desperately trying to warm up, or at least forget about that dream. At first she tried to make her new 'room' somewhat livable, starting by moving everything as far away from the window as possible. That managed to distract her for a while, but eventually, she found herself completely bored with the activity… and utterly miserable.

"You're a lucky thing, you know?" she told Thinker, wrapping a piece of fabric around her shoulders. "Not a care in the world apart from your next meal… Which reminds me, when did you last eat anything?"

The bee stopped it's buzzing to look at her. It stood for a moment there, thinking things through and then signed her: not too long ago…

She didn't believe it, especially since the little thing's stomach took it as its cue to be heard.

Basil couldn't help giggling at that. Opening her handbag, she took out one of Mrs. Judson home-made crumpets and handed it to the little thing that, upon laying eyes on the treat, wasted no time to devour it.

"Easy there now, no eating it whole. You'll only make yourself sick." And we need to save food, she reminded herself. Ratigan said that she would get only one meal per day, so every bit of food stashed away helped, especially since there was no telling when exactly the one meal was going to be served. As of now, she had four crumpets, not counting the two she ate a little while back and the one she just gave to Thinker. Now, if she was to eat one and a half per supper and saved three quarters for the bee… They were hardly enough to keep them for another day.

And to make matters worse, she forgot to take her medicine with her.

Oh, what was she going to do? She was held captive in a freezing attic with nothing but a bee that up until now only managed to get her in trouble. Ratigan was alive and was currently her new owner, meaning that at any time he could do whatever he wished with her. He was a rat after all; there was no telling what he would do next. And those were just the most recent of problems! There were also two dead girls and two mysteriously incinerated murderers on Vole's hands, a possible criminal mastermind roaming the streets of London and for all she knew, a very worried Mrs. Judson and two waiting inspectors in her sitting-room. She had too many things to do to be locked up! And then there was Dawson. You never know what Ratigan's henchman understand by the word "safe"… and she just remembered about Toby! God, she told him to stay! Could it be that he was still out there? In this weather?

She moved over to the door and slowly opened it ajar. Peaking out, she saw Fidget still pretty much out of it. There was no better chance then now.

"Think, I'll be going out for a bit. No, you're not coming. I'm just going to check up on Toby and… No, I'm not going away so quit your… And no, there's no need for that, either. I'll be back before anybody notices I'm gone. But you just stay here and keep an eye on Fidget in case he wakes up. All-right, Think?"

Basil didn't wait for the bee to answer that before slipping out and carefully closing the door behind her. She wasn't worried about waking Fidget anymore though (that bat could sleep through a thunderstorm, apparently), but from what she could recall, Ratigan had a lot of henchmen at his command and not all of them seemed dumb.

Still, first impressions aren't always the ones that really count.

As she made her way through the hallways, she couldn't help noticing how oddly quiet it was. No traces of life anywhere, only wood, marble and the occasional cobwebs (she really hoped their owners were not around anymore). But that was alright with her. After all, she didn't know her way around this particular labyrinth well enough yet, so best be cautions. That was before she found that Ratigan's henchmen were never really an issue, for just as she was turning a corner she almost tripped over something… that is, someone. It really shouldn't have surprised her to see all of Ratigan's men snoring on the floor (and occasionally on chairs, tables and statues), drunk as a mouse could get.

Had her teeth not been clenching as bad as they were, she would have sighed at the sight. You'd say a genius like Ratigan would know better and actually hire some more reliable men.

"Oh Ratigan… oh, Ratigan – hick! Three cheers for the… I forgot…" Confounded! She knew better than to let her guard down! Of course someone was still awake! There was always someone awake!

Not even bothering to see who it really was, she ducked in the nearest corridor. Heart racing, she listened, and came close to panicking for the third (or was it fourth?) time in the last 24 hours when she heard the henchman coming closer towards her hiding place. Looking around, her eyes landed on the shape of two double-doors with a big, bold "R" painted on them. She would bet her tail that was Ratigan's room – and there was no way she was going in there!

But there was no other place to hide.

"Oh well… To Ratigan, to Ratigan, the word's greatest- " Bill the lizard could have sworn that the door to the boss's room just closed and he passed by on his rounds, but he decided to blame it all on the ale as he walked away, intending to check on the detective. Knowing Fidget, that goof-ball was most certainly asleep on the job.

Little did he know that on the other side the doors he though he imagined closing was Basil of Baker Street, right ear pressed to the wooden surface, listening.

It was all reflex. She knew that it was monumentally dumb of her to enter Ratigan's room of all places. But being caught out of her room would most certainly get her in trouble. Still, wasn't getting caught in her captor's room worse? What was wrong with her! She needed to get out of here!

Her hand was already pressed on the handle when she noticed two things: one was that Ratigan was not there, and two was that there was a fire burning in the heart.

At that point, she didn't really care if she was going to be caught or not. In an instant, she was by the fire, warming up her freezing paws.

Much better… she thought as she could finally feel the blood flowing through her veins properly again. Slightly warmer now, she dared take a better look around her and came to the conclusion that the room was… well, not quite what she had expected.

Ratigan's room was literally huge, and in her eyes it resembled a royal suite more then a rat's simple bed chambers. Or at least, it would have resembled a royal suite had the shattered couches been intact, the paintings not shredded heaps of canvas and the carpets nothing but balls of silken fluff. Maybe, this wasn't Ratigan's room after all. This place was simply… devastated, and Ratigan always took great care in his appearance and even more in the appearance of the places he occupied (if his former hideout under The Rat Trap was offering her any clues on the matter). Maybe this could just be some extra room where he and his men were exercising fighting techniques (the claw marks on the walls were sustaining that theory pretty well), but then why was there a half-empty bottle of wine by one of the armchairs? And what was it with this smell of mold and dust? As if nobody has set foot in this room for ages? Thinking back a bit, she realized that the door didn't open quite so easily. But then why was the fire going? The place was a huge contradiction.

All of the sudden, Basil felt something move close to her ankles. Instinctively, she jumped just before she noticed that it was just piece from a chair she must have accidentally moved with her foot.

Laughing at her own stupidity, she stretched a bit as she took another look at the room. She spotted the photograph of her, Dawson and Olivia on one of the walls. She was surprised it was in such good condition considering how everything else in the room looked. Above the fireplace, she noticed a few mouse-sized books; some of them bearing some very interesting titles. She never knew Ratigan was much of a philosopher and… hello?

Right above the fireplace was a lone un-shattered portrait of a young lady mouse. Moving closer, Basil could tell that the one who painted this was very talented. He (or she) had captured the mouse's every single detail with great accuracy, like they were trying to tell the viewer the life story of their model. Just by looking at the picture Basil could tell that she must have been a mouse that worked around fire. The artist had made her fur slightly burned around the hands and there were traces of baking soda or flower or flowers stuck to it (she couldn't really tell since it was a painting)… A cook or a baker maybe? But then again, her dress didn't much fit the rest of her. Yes, it looked simple enough, much like the type any normal Victorian lady was to wear, but it also looked way too fancy for the mouse in the painting. Basil wasn't much of a painter, but it looked to her that the girl and the decorations didn't seem to fit together. It was like they were taken from two different eras. In fact, all that actually seamed to fit was the pendant around her neck and even that was…

Narrowing her eyes, Basil took a closer look at said pendant. It couldn't be… Pulling out her little notebook she scanned the pages until she reached her notes from yesterday. Yes, there was no mistaking it. The symbol she had found burned at the scene of the crime was identical with the one on the girl's pendant.

A sudden memory came to mind. Last night, when Ratigan lit his cigarette, there was some sort of an engraving on his lighter. She didn't give it much though at the moment since the she had other problems to deal with at that time, but now that she was here and had time to mull it over… Could it be possible that Ratigan was responsible for all those murders?

A shadow suddenly passed over her, placing itself between her and the portrait. She felt pressure on her right upper-arm and realized that Ratigan was there.

"What are you doing here?"

Her heart skipped a beat at those words. Ratigan's grip on her hand tightened, blocking the blood from flowing though her hand. The rat was angry, that much was certain. Despite her rapidly increasing fear, she dared to look up, only to meet a pair of angry red eyes.

She stood corrected: Ratigan was VERY angry.

"I ask again: what do you think you're doing here?" he snarled, pushing her away from him. She stumbled back a few paces before tripping over a chair. He did not give her time to get back on her feet. "How dare you come snooping around my room? And right after I left that pathetic lump go free? After I didn't kill you on the spot? After I spared your miserable life, you come out sneaking and riffling through my things?! How DARE YOU?!"

"I'm sorry! I never meant to -" she tried to explain herself, but that only seemed to make Ratigan's even angrier.

"Never meant to what?" he bellowed so loudly Basil ducked her head. "To foil my each and every plan? To throw me off of Big Ben? To take away from me the only things that still mean something to me in this life? What, you cursed bastard? WHAT?!" Ratigan was fuming by now, spitting out everything and anything that came to mind. There were few times when he lost his cool, but when it came to the detective there was nothing keeping him back from lashing out. And he knew that Basil would get out of that room sooner or later. He was counting on it (he needed a reason to torment the mouse for honor's sake). But finding the little pipsqueak in his room, with his things, looking at her painting?! He was not playing games any more, he was murderous.

He half expected the mouse to shriek away from him in fright. Instead, to his immense surprise, the detective's head snapped up and she looked him full in the face. Basil's eyes were blazing pinpoints of fury.

"You dare," she snapped, in a hiss that matched his own. "You dare accuse me of such acts when you yourself have done worse to so many countless others? What about Allen Hopkins? Was robbing him of his family and his eyesight worth it? Just because he spotted your stupid fake jewelry? Or how about the Franklins? Did they deserve to be robbed of their home and possessions like that? Or how about the Maples? Mr. Scourgy? Ms. Eleanor and her family? Patricia Elder? David Ector? Margaret Daniels? Shall I continue? You are the one who is robbing people of all those things they most care about, you disgusting sewer rat! You crush the hope and happiness of every living soul that you touch and I wouldn't be surprised if the same happened with that girl in the painting!"

She might as well have slapped him in the face. Never had anybody ever spoken to him on such a tone, and nobody ever talk about her, especially not like that! Nobody!

"Get out!" Ratigan growled out almost incomprehensibly.

When she moved too slowly, he reached forward and his claws snagged on the sleeve of her coat. She yanked away with a cry of terror. Looking down, she saw three deep rips were left in the fabric. Proving once again that faith had an affinity for drama a gust of wind blew down the chimney right at that second and the flames in the heart behind Ratigan jumped to almost touch him. Making his shadow grow to gigantic proportions and adding to the fire in his eyes.

For a moment, neither spoke a word. Ratigan stood there, mouth hanging open, amazed on how easily he had lost control. He looked up from his claws to Basil and found the mouse petrified with fear. Slowly, the detective took one shaky step back, then another, and another before she fled the room. She had bumped into Bill at the door (who kept crying out that the prisoner was out and that there was a killer bee after him), but she didn't stop running.

A couple of henchmen must have woken up as she ran past and jumped over them, but she didn't care. Promise or no promise, she was not going to stay in the same building as that rat a moment longer.

"Get him, you fools!" she heard Ratigan shout just as she slipped outside through the little hole in the front door. She did not look back, she could not look back. That rat almost killed her when she hesitated. She could only imagine what he would do with her if she was caught. Leaving nature to cover her tracks, she just kept running as fast as her legs could carry her.

"Toby, are you there?" she called out as soon as she had reached a suitable distance from the villa. Seems he was not dumb enough to stay put in the middle of a snowstorm. Seeing that she would receive no response, she started running again, intending on getting as far away from Ratigan as she possibly could. It didn't matter that the falling snow was making it impossible for her to see where she was going, but anywhere was better then back there.

"Oh, hello there!"

Basil gasped and froze. No, no, no, no, this was not happening! The rat from yesterday, the one from the gang Toby scared off the other day was standing right in front of her. He recently had acquired a very nasty scar over his right eye and appeared to be missing a bit of his tail. If she ever came out of this one alive, she will have to give the basset hound an extra yummy treat.

She started to slowly retreat when the rat laughed. "What's the matter dolly? Are you not happy to see us?" The use of 'us' did not go unnoticed by Basil, nor did the fact that she was surrounded by his gang members. "By the look on your face I'd guess not, but then, who am I to try and read people? I'm terrible at poker."

This was bad. The rats were closing in on her, and with each step they took, she knew her chances of escape were decreasing. She had to come up with a plan, and fast.

"Now, come on dolly, stop being so jumpy. We ain't gonna hurt ye'. Right Fritz?" a rat from her right said. She knew he was giving her false reassurances, but he also had no way of knowing she just gave her an idea on how to escape.

"Right, Bart! We is just gonna have some fun in the snow, that we are." Another rat responded. She knew exactly what he meant by 'fun', and she didn't plan on sticking around for that, especially after his cruel notion of a joke had also give her an idea or two.

Now which one should she chose?

"Please, gentlemen!" Said the leader. "Let's not scare our little puppet. Dolly here doesn't even know us yet. Now, I say we should start by remedying that little problem. Do not worry, everybody will get their fair share of time to introduce themselves … after me, of course." His gang laughed.

Well, when in doubt, do both!

Faster than she believed she could ever move, she pretended slipping, cupped up a hand of fresh snow and threw it at the leader. The rat involuntarily ducked, not knowing that the ball itself could not hurt him given the fact that the snow was still too fresh for it. Basil took full advantage of this and rushed forwards, jumping over the rat.

"Get 'em!" their leader cried. Ha! As if she was going to let them catch her.

And just to make sure, she pulled out her magnifying glass out of her pocket and threw it towards a branch above the group. The result: a well-placed snowfall on a few unfortunate rats. But there was no reason to rejoice.

Pushing her already aching body beyond its limits, Basil dodged and jumped out of the reach of the ones who were fortunate enough to not get buried in snow until finally, after avoiding what would have been a particularly nasty gash in her side, she tripped over a stone she did not see in the snow and came stumbling down a hill, right into the river.

She struggled to get out of the freezing water, slipping a couple of times on the rock near the shore, but eventually found her way back to solid ground. If she wouldn't get pneumonia after this, then she would consider herself very lucky.

"Well boys, look what the tide dragged in."

She didn't even have time to register the words when she felt strong paws pinned her to the ground. They had caught her. Basil struggled, tried to free her arms, tried to bite, tried everything she could think of, but the others' grip was to strong on her.

"Thought you were pretty smart, didn't you?" the boss of the gang said. From her position, Basil could only see him from the waist down. Though it was pretty useless, she did her best to glare at him. "Well, sorry to break it to you puppet, but even if ya'r smart, ya's just one." Her eyes caught the shape of a knife in his hand. With all the power she still had left in her, she tried to get the other rodents off of her. It was a lost battle.

"Say goodnight, puppet!" As the knife came down, she closed here eyes in anticipation of the pain. There was none. Instead she heard a clinking sound, like metal hitting metal, then an "of" and suddenly the rats' hold on her wasn't that strong anymore.

Daring to look, she became stunned at the sight. Ratigan was there, strangling the leader of the gang with his cane.

"Well, Basil, it seems you're completely hopeless when left alone, are you not? Not that I expected anything else."

She did not know how to respond to that. The rats, on the other hand, had more than one response, one more colorful then the other

"Now, now, gentlemen! There is no need for foul language…" he squeezed the boss's windpipe just a little bit harder "… or violence."

"What the hell do you want!" cried out one of the rats that was holding her.

Ratigan smirked and let the leader go. "Oh, nothing much. I just want my property-" at this, he pointed the tip of his cane towards Basil "-back, so unless any of you fine gentlemen have any objections, then I believe we best be off our way." His words were calm, his voice steady, yet Basil felt something else in that diplomatic calmness. He was giving them all a warning, a subtle one at that, but a waning they should all head.

A dumber gang member didn't seem to catch it. "Back? Ha, you're off your rockers, fella! Catch'in this 'one wasn't easy. If you want what tha' little slut back, you're gonna have to pay us, pall."

Ratigan just stood there, smiling at the rat and toying with his cane "I believe I wasn't quite clear…" a second later, the other rat was left without a hand, and Ratigan was tucking a hidden blade back in the cane "… I want my property back. I am not asking for it."

Some of the rats gasped, others jumped, and one pulled Basil up by the collar, nearly choking her as he did that.

"You want the slut, then come and get 'em" A knife was at Basil's neck. She didn't like the situation at all.

And nether did Ratigan from what she could see, but for entirely different reasons. The classy rodent sighed dramatically before slowly, gracefully, he took off his gloves. What followed, Basil was not sure. All she knew is that there was a lot of movement, a lot of screaming and that at some point the one that was keeping a hold on her suddenly let her go.

Her instincts taking over, Basil sprinted away from the scene, hoping to get away from this insanity. In doing so though, she found that something was wrong with her left leg. It simply couldn't sustain her weight, so with each step she took she kept stumbling down, falling back onto the cold snow.

Knowing that she was going nowhere like this, she stumbled to the base of the nearest tree and tried to find a hiding place among its roots. Hopefully, nobody would notice her there, but knowing her luck, that was not going to be the case. She was tired, she was cold, she was hurt and all in all there was nothing she could do anymore. She just wanted to fall asleep, to close her eyes for a bit …

Yes… yes, dearest. Sleep, yes, sleep… leave the outside word to its own musings… Leave the pain and ache behind and rest… that's it… rest, my dear, rest your tired eyes… and let me find you…

The voice was smooth and calming, and Basil found it hard not to listen to it… before remembering that she didn't want to die. And then there was this ticklish sensation around her ankles. Making an effort to open her eyes, she nearly jumped out of her skin when she noticed the big, black spider that had taken an interest in her.

Fully alert now, she kicked the creature away. She wasn't planning on getting eaten ether!

After the creature was gone, she listened intensely to what was going on around her. Oddly enough, everything was silent. (Could it be that she actually fell asleep in the middle of all that?!) She dared to take a peak over the root and found that the gang of rats was nowhere to be seen. More confident now, she fully emerged from her hiding place, her eyes searching the surroundings for any signs of movement.

A full minute passed in which she was cautiously looking and listening for anything that might represent a threat to her. Luckily, she didn't find anything of the sort… but she did stumble upon the very still form of Ratigan lying on the ground, half covered by new snow.

Upon seeing him, her first impulse was to rush to him, check if he was still alive. But then she remembered that this was the notorious Professor Ratigan, the horror of her every waking moment! If he was to die there, then she couldn't care less. That though in mind, she limped in the opposite direction. If lucky, she might reach Baker Street by noon.

She barely managed to cover a couple of feet before a strange, clicking sound was heard. By now, Basil was quite fed up with all the surprises this day was bringing her. Looking around, she could have sworn that she saw a spider hiding at the base of a nearby tree. Maybe the same one that she kicked earlier… But wait a moment… were spiders supposed to be up and about in this weather?

Eyes narrowed, Basil looked back at the place where she believed she saw the spider. Much to her surprise, it really was there and it was watching her with many hungry, red eyes (did spiders even have red eyes?!), and much to her horror, it was not alone.

"Dear Lord above! What have I done to deserve this!" she screamed in panic at the sight. Now, a little bit of bad luck she could understand, but what the hell was happening here?! First Ratigan, then a band of rats, now spiders?! Why did it have to be spiders?! She hated spiders!

She started to run, despite the constant pain in her leg, when two different things occurred to her at the same time: the spiders looked hungry and Ratigan was lying unconscious in the snow.

"Serves the rat right! It's not my problem!" she tried to convince herself, but the louder the spider's clinking was getting, the more troubles she had believing that.

"Oh, to hell with it!"

She told herself that she had gone mad. She must have! Why else was she running back towards Ratigan, why else was she dusting the snow off him, why else was she checking for a pulse (and felt both miserable and relieved that he actually had one) and why was she trying to wake him up?

"Ratigan! Ratigan, wake up, you fool! RATIGAN!!!" She tried screaming in his ear, she tried slapping him across the face, she tried punching him – nothing worked. The rat was out cold.

And the spiders were getting closer.

"Curse you Ratigan!" Basil screamed in exasperation. Yes, she knew she was mad – why else would she force herself to drag him back towards the villa, a horde of spiders right on their tails?

Yes, Basil of Baker Street must have gone mad. But after such a morning, who was to blame her?

Oh, we're going into dark territory right now (and I am somewhat wondering if you guys think I should take the rating a step up), but all the same, this chapter is full of clues. Also, cookies for the ones who guess where I got the inspiration for this chapter :3 But still, everything somehow became a great deal more complicated. And what's Ratigan's connection to all of this? Can he actually be the brains of all of this? And just who was the girl in the portrait?

For the answers to these questions and more, we shall meet again in the next chapter!

Reviews are always welcome and greatly appreciated!