By zuko_42

Twisted from Enid Blyton

“You all right?”

“Yes, Inspector.”


She snuck a glance at the Inspector from the corner of her eyes as the car slowed. While she’d spent the last 12 years growing up, he’d spent them growing old; his burly physique had diminished to a sallow leanness, and the hands gripping the wheel were not as steady as they used to be. Still, she suspected that much of the grey hair on his head and the lines on his face came from the case they were now so near to closing.

This case had been his ruin, and no wonder.

The man whom the police had dubbed Mr. Hide-and-Seek (and whom the Inspector liked to call Mr. Hyde) had, for the past five years, led them in endless circles all over England. Nobody knew who he was. Nobody knew where he was from. Nobody even knew if he had an accomplice. The only solid information the police had on him was that he was a man, and that he had blue eyes.

Five years, no leads, no suspects—it was enough to deter a lesser man than the Inspector, she thought with mixture of pride and frustration. Dizzying amounts of cheques had been forged, near impossible to detect; witnesses couldn’t agree to what Mr. Hyde looked like, except for the colour of his eyes. What made it all the more confusing was that the man was known to disguise himself as people of varying ages and heights, and at times as women.

Five years and nothing to show for it. The Inspector, having been in charge of the case, willingly shouldered the brunt of the criticism, at his own risk. The entire fiasco was the reason why he’d been demoted from Superintendent, to Chief Inspector, and finally to the post of Inspector that he’d held when she first met him.

Five years was a long time to be on the run, though. Mr. Hyde had grown careless—or afraid. Either way, he made some stupid mistakes along the way, and now, she and the Inspector were finally, finally, about to close this case for good.

The car rolled to a stop, and the two of them stepped out. Her breath misted, fanned, dissipated, as she hurried after the Inspector. “Sorry,” he said, looking over his shoulder; he slackened his pace for her benefit.

“I can keep up,” she said quickly.

The Inspector raised a questioning eyebrow—can you? he seemed to ask. She nodded. He resumed the brisk walk he’d first adopted, and she increased the speed and length of her strides to match his. Presently, an abandoned railway station emerged from the fog, looming over them, the crumbling remnants of a time that was, in fact, not so long ago. It stood grey and dreary and forbidding under the snowy sky.

She sucked in a sharp breath as the Inspector retrieved a gun from his coat. “It’s necessary,” he said. She didn’t comment; it was a while before he spoke again. “You know, we might’ve finished this long ago if Frederick agreed to help.” He led her into the station, and the darkness that descended upon them was palpable. She wrinkled her nose at the musty smell. “Watch your step,” he warned.

She avoided tripping on a fallen lamppost just in time. Deciding it was in their best interests not to blindly wander around in the dark, she flicked on her torch and let it shine into the swirling eddies of fog.

“He was having a bad time then,” she said. “His mother just died, his father lost his money …” Her voice sounded hollow, her words echoing through the cavernous halls. She lowered her voice. “Last I heard from him he said he’d gone abroad to make his fortune.” And he’d called off their engagement—but that last part she kept to herself. It was with an effort that she stopped herself from reaching to the letter she always kept about her person, close to her heart.

“He could’ve joined the police like he’d always intended,” the Inspector said. The disappointment in his voice mirrored her own. “He could’ve made his fortune with us.” Then after a bit he added, “You two were a good team.”

She didn’t answer. It was something she, too, agonised over again and again, wondering why he didn’t accept the Inspector’s offer. Being a detective was what he’d always wanted since they were both children. And yet, 12 years later, here she was living his dream.

The Inspector jumped off the platform and held out a hand to help her onto the tracks; she accepted his help for old times’ sake. She couldn’t help looking up and down the line, pricking her ears for the nonexistent sound of a train. … The fear didn’t leave her, though she knew these tracks were no longer in use. To distract herself, she looked up. It was a gloomy afternoon, she noted, the sky laden with clouds that seemed as though they might burst any second. But it was sufficiently light enough for them to dispense with her torch. She switched it off and shoved it into her coat.


She followed the Inspector’s finger with her eyes. “I see it.” Footprints shone alongside the track, clear on the dusting of snow on the ground, heading north. “Fresh,” she observed; the Inspector agreed. It was a reasonable deduction, since
it had just stopped snowing while they were pulling up at the station.

They followed the tracks for nearly 10 minutes without incident, until they spotted a trail of blood overlapping the footprints. “Must’ve caught himself there,” the Inspector said, jerking his thumb at a break in the line where a cruel jag of metal stuck out. She shivered. The red upon the white filled her eyes.

After that the two were careful to maintain a safe gap between them and the tracks as they pursued the prints. “He’s limping,” she said. It was a pointless remark, made more for breaking the horrible silence than anything else. “The spacing of the prints is irregular.”

“Not surprising, really.” The Inspector’s voice was chilling, even more so than the sudden wind that whipped past them. “Drat,” he snapped as his hat was snatched off his head and into the air. He gave it a cursory glance, not stopping once. She gave it
a sorry look over her shoulder—it looked so forlorn, sitting atop the snow in the middle of an abandoned railway—before running off after the Inspector. The hat could wait. They had more pressing business to attend to.

It was clear that they were getting closer. She couldn’t decide if she was excited, or nervous; likely both, she thought. There was evidence of a fall somewhere; their quarry had lurched back to his feet with some difficulty before going on. By now, the snowing had resumed, little flakes dancing around the pair (she stuck out her tongue to catch one). Fortunately, it was still a light fall, not heavy enough to hinder their progress. It made a melancholy picture, the clear snow, the station slowly disintegrating into the background until it disappeared from view, and the rusted metal rails leading to nowhere in particular …

The Inspector stopped rather abruptly.

She nearly fell, but he flung out an arm to steady her. “Thanks.” He didn’t reply, instead staring straight ahead. They were here, she realised. Her eyes widened. This was it. Five years of hardship was nearly over. A tall figure, his back to them … he swayed on the spot before crumpling to the ground. The snow around him, particularly near his left leg, was glazed red.

“At last,” the Inspector breathed. He strode to the body, she at his heels.

She examined him clearly, curious to behold at last, in person, the face of the man who’d caused them so much trouble. Mr. Hyde appeared to be about her age, maybe older. His cap was pulled low over his face; the Inspector snatched it off, allowing them to observe him with greater ease. Without it, she could see his hair: light, straight, and badly taken care of, the jagged ends reaching up to his collar. A ratty little moustache adorned his upper lip. The Inspector poked it suspiciously with a gloved finger.

Mr. Hyde’s eyes flew open at the touch—clear, startlingly blue, and unmistakable. She gasped and stumbled back. Her mouth opened and shut like a goldfish; she felt the blood drain from her face. She had to remind herself to breathe.

“What?” the Inspector demanded. She swallowed, unable to articulate. The man at their feet began to sit up, one hand clutching his leg, and the Inspector immediately snapped his attention back to him. He trained his gun to the man’s skull. “Hands above your head!” he said harshly.

The man complied in silence. He didn’t seem much concerned with his imminent imprisonment; instead he was staring at her with an inscrutable look on his face. Breathing deeply, she forced herself to calm down. Then, she reached out and ripped the moustache from his face; it came away easily in her hand. He made no move. He and the Inspector eyed her as she opened her mouth to speak, at first no sound escaping her lips—and then—

“Fatty,” she whispered. The Inspector made a choking noise and dropped his gun.

The man on the ground smiled sadly. “You were always the one to see right through me, Bets.”

The snow swirled dismally around them. After a brief hush, Inspector Jenks pulled himself together, picked up his gun, and aimed it once more at the man; there was a slight tremor in the Inspector’s voice when he spoke.

“Frederick Algernon Trotteville, you are under arrest.”