As I fell, drunk, out of a carriage in Baker Street, I reflected upon my relationship with that great man Sherlock Holmes. He was a bit of a pain in the arse, cocky, and a junkie. I was a doctor, a learned man of great responsibility. We were strange bedfellows indeed, but we had never shared a bed. That rumour, spread by London villains to discredit Holmes, had destroyed my marriage. Holmes and I had only ever shared a kiss – we had become a little bit giddy in a bubble bath after a night at the opera.
I knocked on the door and was received by Holmes’ landlady, Betty Rawcook. “Dr Watson!” she exclaimed. “Where are your trousers?” I pushed past her, fell, and my face smashed against an oak sideboard. When I came to, I was in Holmes’ room, and the great man was standing over me with a grin on his face.
“Drunk, Watson?” he chuckled.
I tried to get off the couch, but he had tied me to it. Holmes was a great lover of tying people to things. He had once spent a year in Asia, studying the tying of people to stuff, and had come home with an advanced knowledge of knots and pleasure. He now carried lengths of rope everywhere, always prepared for any opportunity to tie a person, bottom up, to an object.
“I’m perfectly sover!” I blurted.
“Now, was that a typo, or did you actually say “sover”? I’d wager you actually said it, in which case I deduce that you are DRUNK!” Holmes raised an eyebrow.
“Amazing, Holmes. How did you-“
“Elementary,” he smiled, and slapped my buttocks. I yelped a little. “I merely observed your state of drunkenness, and then tied you to a couch, and then heard you say the word “sover” and then accused you of being drunk.”
“You are wonderful.” I sighed. “But why did you call me here?”
“Because the game is afoot! By which I mean I’ve been playing a game. Nothing about feet, really.”
Holmes went to his dresser, and lifted a cardboard box. He turned it to show me. His own image was on the front, and the name read SHERLOCK HOLMES: CONSULTING DETECTIVE. He quickly opened the box and emptied its contents out onto the table.
“What kind of game is this, Holmes? There are no dice. No cards. No tiny plastic space marines!”
“Watson, this is not a board game. This is something very special indeed. This is… an experience. An opportunity to live and breathe in the London of Sherlock Holmes and his lover Watson! “
“Holmes, I am not-“
“Let me detail the contents of this box. Inside you will find ten different case files. Each book introduces a case, and then moves onto a section full of paragraphs relevant to visits you might make through the course of your investigation. There is also a map of London. Each building is given a unique code – as you choose to visit a building, you refer to a paragraph in the case file. You see?! There is also a directory of London people and places. Again – should you wish to visit any of these people, you need only refer to the relevant paragraph and find out what you discovered. And finally – Oh! Watson, this does excite me so! – there are newspapers from the London of the day. You will have to pore over these newspapers to find clues, inconsistencies and new leads!”
“Slow down, Holmes!” I exclaimed. “That was a very large block of text. First – how do you investigate these cases?”
Holmes sat, played violin, had a sip of a drink, read a book, finished a game of chess, and smiled. He walked to the fireplace, wrote a novel, and leaned on the mantel. He lit his pipe, made a phone call to the Italian Embassy, instructed a surgeon on how to improve hygiene in the children’s hospital, and fixed me with a steely stare. “I just told you,” he said.
I tried to remember what he had said. It was a challenge indeed, with the ropes making it deliciously difficult for me to breathe. I started making groaning noises in an attempt to gain some assistance from him, but he only sat and stared at me like some kind of android from a 3D science fiction movie, whatever that is.
“Okay, Watson. I can see that you are about to pass out. Let me go further. This game is almost like a choose-your-own-adventure book, except that you are never given any choices. Every move you make in the game, everywhere you go, everyone you visit, is entirely your decision. Indeed, if you do not have your wits about you, you will struggle to know where to go next. The only information you begin with is the details of the case itself, and a knowledge of London and its inhabitants. Using those facts, and anything you find in the newspapers, you will make decisions on where to go, who to see.”
“And do you do this alone?” I asked. Holmes and I liked to play games together.
“You can. But I find that this game is a wonder when played with a friend or a sexual partner. Pour some wine, lay out the map, read the case file… and then conduct your own investigation.”
“But how do you win, Holmes?”
“When you feel that you have enough information to solve the case, you turn to the back of the case file. There you will find some questions. You answer them, and find out your score. You will then compare your score to the score of the master himself, the man you see standing naked before you right now – the great SHERLOCK HOLMES!”
With that, Holmes performed a forward roll that would be the envy of every gymnast in Russia. He leaped to his feet and flashed a smile at me.
“Holmes, you are wonderful,” I sighed. “Can you sum it all up for me, to bring all this to a climax?”
“Indeed. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is a wonderful game. An essential purchase. It is a collaborative investigation game, and one that will truly test your brain power. It has a wonderful feel – you will feel like you truly are in London, working alongside the sexy Sherlock Holmes. And the game itself is beautiful. It is a classy, lovely thing. It is –“
At that very point, Holmes flung himself into the fire. Being so full of alcohol, he popped like a fiery balloon. I screamed in terror, but also found it strangely arousing.
“THE GREAT MAN IA!” I screamed, as my couch gained sentience and crawled towards the window. “THE GREAT OLD MAN! IA! IA!” I screamed, and the night air received me, and the moon, and the stars, and the forever.