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The Glint in the Watery Grave

by Parfitt 

Posted: 21 December 2008
Word Count: 1596

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The Glint In The Watery Grave

‘Among these unfinished tales (cases that Sherlock Holmes never solved) is that of Mr James Phillimore, who stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world.’

Mr Phillimore was a quiet, pale individual who spent most of his life standing at the edge of society looking in with a questioning eye and usually clutching a notebook. He had begun an unhealthy obsession with the Greek god Dionysus after meeting a small group of Poets and Philosophers in ‘The Crown’ public house. He was alone and sat in a corner reading a book titled, ‘Hedonism and Euphoria – Dionysus and the way of the Underworld by Bert Bacchus.’ A member of this party of men approached him as he sat and sipped his ale and invited Mr Phillimore to join in their discussions. And it was here that he met other individuals like himself, who craved a meaning for what they believed was a Godless world. Where human suffering was rife and Queen Victoria sat on her throne unaware, in her mourning blacks grieving at the table that was always laid for her beloved Albert, that the spirit world was merging quietly with the living. The Palace was a closed island - her people ignored.
The club was an unruly affair that quite often ended in a brawl and was eventually forced into secrecy when a distribution of blasphemous leaflets were handed out amongst the students at Kings College where Phillimore was a student. Consequently he was expelled, along with five other members. The club leader – a Mr Blake continued the sessions in a coffee-house near Covent Garden. Mr Phillimore’s Father reluctantly subsidised him and Phillimore bought a house in London on the condition he would find some kind of work. Two years later his father died of Consumption.
His inheritance was substantial and allowed him to continue in his interests without fearing his father’s watchful eye. With the help of Mr Blake he began to experiment in ‘other-worldly’ dimensions. Mr Blake, sketching out prospective windows into other worlds showed Phillimore pictures of hellish landscapes, angels and children floating in Limbo. Blake had a vast knowledge of Philology - he claimed he had visited Dionysus’ world - the drawings were a glimpse. Blake claimed, ‘There is an entrance somewhere. If the belief is strong enough it will come to you. The problem is that you cannot choose when it happens. There are portals everywhere and you will know when you see one. You will receive a sign.’
‘ What kind of sign?’
‘Mr Phillimore, I have seen things but only because I have believed enough. He has to trust you, meditation and opium will do this. The sign could be anything but you will know in your heart when it happens and when he chooses to collect you.’
‘Like death?’
‘Almost, except you will not really die. You will simply enter another state that runs parallel to the living and the dead. There are three strands in existence. Three places where you can go; this earth which is a result of complete consciousness. Death, where your body is extinct from the view of the living but your soul wanders for eternity. And the Underworld where you exist in pure enlightenment and you become a creature of pleasure and pain. You choose which you prefer.’ Blake looked at Mr Phillimore’s face which looked perplexed. He had dark circles around his eyes from months of sleepless nights and too much wine and opium. Mr Blake produced a drawing, it was a diagram of the inside of a man’s head.‘ You see, here is a portal,’ he pointed at a cylindrical shape which spanned between the ears, ‘ this is your consciousness, you have to close it down in order to see into the other world.’ Again, he produced a diagram of a man’s head, the cylinder shape had changed to that of a triangle. ‘This is what belief looks like. You must reshape your mind.’
Mr Phillimore increased his intake of opium. He kept a diary of his visions. Whenever a dark passage appeared before him he became convinced his mind was changing shape and the cylinder was distorting. At the end of this passage he saw the silhouettes of people, moving quickly, weaving in and out of each other with their long arms reaching up. These elongated dancing creatures began to turn into fish-like shapes, the arms shrank into fins and their heads became huge mouths opening and closing. They began to swallow each other until one huge fat fish bubbled and floated heavy with the rest of them. The fish then turned and looked Phillimore in the eye and slowly opening its mouth wide came for Phillimore who turned and ran. The fish caught him and the world went black. These hallucinations plagued him for months.
Eventually Mr Phillimore was given the sign he was waiting for. He met some friends in a public house and after drinking copious amounts of wine, left the bar at around two o’clock in the morning. He walked home alone taking the route he knew best, along by the river and across London Bridge. The air was thick and the fog hung heavy. He arrived home, put the key in the door and went inside. He fell asleep slumped in an armchair in front of a dwindling fire in his Study.
At seven o’clock the next morning Muriel the housekeeper burst into the room. ‘Oh there you are sir, I’ve been out of my mind with worry. Where have you been?’
‘Right here. What’s all the fuss about?’
‘Sir, when I came yesterday your bed had not been slept in. I thought perhaps you had gone on one of your missions but a man, a friend of yours, funny, wouldn’t leave a name, top hat, long dark beard, called for you in the afternoon and said that no one had seen you. You missed one of your meetings Sir, so naturally I was concerned.’
‘Rubbish! The meeting is not until tomorrow,’ he rubbed his head and moaned, ‘good God, woman my head is killing me.’
‘I’ll bring some salts.’ She left the room. He got up and went to his desk. The room was at the back of the house with a view straight across the river. A thick brick wall was the only thing standing between the garden and the water. His diary lay open, February the twenty-seventh, nothing could be accounted for. He wrote, severe headache that is all. Muriel brought the salts and he slept until mid-day.
The headache passed and at about six o’clock he left the house and walked to a coffee-house. Once he was there he consumed some opium and thought about Dionysus, eventually a vision occurred. A figure, a watery figure and some red liquid, the figure was swimming. Mr Phillimore looked down at his arm, it was scaly and his skin had become damp, he felt as though he was floating. I can’t swim, he thought, how can I be breathing under water? He followed the figure through caves where fish and seaweed glowed white. Then the figure evaporated. He opened his eyes. He came to me, he thought, finally he’s arrived. He got up from his seat and rushed out. He must get to Blake as soon as possible. Above, the sky had darkened and the prospect of rain loomed. I must go home first, he thought.
He arrived home, grabbed his umbrella and ran to his study, he pulled out his diary. He scribbled franticly jotting down the apparition. He needed to think. There was a portal somewhere by this river that would guide him and it didn’t matter if he could swim, Dionysus would help him. Mr Blake was right, the Underworld was here. As he leant over his desk, he felt something slide over the back of his neck, he turned fast and saw a small fish flapping about on the floorboards. He grabbed it and ran downstairs opened the back door and flung the fish over the wall. He had blood on him, he went to the kitchen sink and rinsed his hands and as he watched the blood dilute, swilling around at the bottom of the basin, he realised what he had to do.
Taking his umbrella he went outside and stood by the wall. The fish was a sign, I have to follow the fish if I am to be met by Dionysus. He wants me, he thought and I must go to him. He took off his waistcoat and threw it into the river. It was sucked under. The rain was making craters on the surface of the swelling water. Mr. Phillimore put the umbrella down and jumped. He sank fast and as the water took over he felt his skin become scaly and his lungs filling with liquid - yet he could breathe. Dionysus had come for him.

‘And so, the mystery solved, sadly long after the death of the legendary Holmes when after removing the foundations of the house to make way for a new build, a small tunnel was discovered which led out onto the banks of the river. In which; a waistcoat, shoe and remains of an umbrella were found. The umbrella was neatly engraved on the handle with the initials, J. Phillimore. There was no sign of a body, only the quiet sound of a trickling stream and a small fish flapping in the water.’

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