We dropped Blue off at the Mansion, as well as Thursday Next, Jack Spratt, Mary Mary and Batman. We had a lot of trouble finding more detectives. None of us had ever read a book by Agatha Christie or knew any other famous detective novels. We almost took apart the library for books we could still visit.
‘I’m out.’ Poe said. ‘My dislike of detective novels is going to kill us and I’m fine with that.’
‘Don’t look at me, I’m already fiction. I can’t help you with this one.’
‘Ok, I have one more detective in mind, but I have to warn you, he is a bit excentric… and not a real detective…’ I walked over to the closet and took out a green and purple book.
‘Who is it?’ Poe took the book out of my hands and stared at the cover. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. You’ve read this? Isn’t this… fanfiction?’
‘No! It’s really good! And he does solve a mystery.’
‘What are you two talking about?’ Now Dirk snagged the book out of Poe’s hands. His look was shocked when he saw the cover. ‘This is an actual book?’
‘Well, we don’t have to go there. I guess we have enough detectives…’
Poe looked at me, nervous and uncertain. We knew we had almost nothing against the Writingdesk Conundrum.
‘We have eight detectives, including myself.’ Dirk interrupted. ‘I suggest we make it an even ten. Lead the way into that horrid book of yours, Polly!’
We entered the scene where the mystery was being explained.
‘So,’ said Conan Doyle eventually, ‘it was the housekeeper?’
‘Yes,’ said Oscar, ‘It was the housekeeper.’
Poe looked at me with pity, which I tried to ignore.
‘I’m going over there.’ As brave as I could, I walked into the room and stopped at the mantelpiece, across from Mr. Oscar Wilde.
‘Excuse me, sir, but we need your help.’
He looked at me intensely, then looked over at Dirk and Poe and back at me again.
‘Who are you, my dear. And how did you get in here?’
‘We come from the real world, it is in danger.’
‘What is she talking about, Oscar?’ Constance asked. ‘Do you know this girl?’
‘I don’t think I do. Could you two gentleman come over here please?’
Poe and Dirk obeyed and shuffled over. ‘No, I have never met any of these people. They look out of place, don’t they Arthur?’
‘They do, Oscar. Very much so.’
‘As I said, we come from the real world. We live in the year 2010 and this is how we dress there…’
‘You keep on saying you come from the real world. What does that mean?’ Oscar Wilde asked us.
‘This world we are in now, your entire life, it’s fiction. You live in a book called Oscar Wilde and the candlelight murders.’
‘I think you are a bit confused, little girl. Arthur and I are writers, so how can we be fiction as well?’
‘Writers write about writers. They do it all the time actually…’
They exchanged glances and looked back at us again.
‘Can you take us to this real world?’ Oscar asked
‘Off course!’ Poe suddenly got enthusiastic and stepped forward. ‘Take my hand.’
Back at the Mansion we found all our detectives sitting in a circle around Guy. They were listening intently while he was explaining our situation. As soon as he saw us, his face turned to disappointment.
‘More detectives? Seriously?! I’ve just started telling the story.’ He gave a loud sigh and gestured Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle over. ‘Sit down, I’ll start over.’
I sent Guy a smile of gratitude which he accepted.
Poe and I hung around in the corner of the room while Guy was lecturing everyone, including Dirk. He explained to them, as well as he could, what was happening and why we needed their help. Everybody seemed to understand and as soon as he was done, they went to work, all in their own way. Batman talked in a gravelly voice and worked with some gadgets, while Sherlock Holmes was working together with Arthur Conan Doyle. Especially Arthur had to overcome some awkwardness at seeing his creation alive, but they proved themselves to be a good team.
‘Polly, how are you doing?’
‘Thursday!’ I couldn’t contain myself and I gave her a hug.
‘Seems like your life hasn’t calmed down yet.’ She smiled and gave Poe a nod before walking back to Dirk.
‘Do you think we have enough people?’ I asked Poe.
‘I sure hope so.’
All our detectives worked as hard and fast as they could. There was a surprisingly big amount of fights during their investigation. They all had their own style of detectiving and combining didn’t always work out. As soon as they started discussing who was the best detective in the room, we had to step in. It took them all day and all night to work things out. Poe and I had fallen asleep on the floor and were woken abruptly by loud cheers and clapping.
‘Wha.. What’s going on?’ Poe said sleepily.
‘Wake up, boy! We think we located him.’ Jack Spratt’s friendly face was smiling at us.
Batman helped me and Poe get up and talked us through their investigation.
‘We’ve looked at all the locations you two have been and where he followed you. We extracted the books that were demolished and added the ones you’ve read but haven’t been in yet. We came to the conclusion that the Writingdesk Conundrum is now in the Candlelight murders.’
‘Well, let’s go get him!’ Poe was wide awake and ready for action. He jumped up and scared me while doing it.
I was still way too sleepy.
‘Not so fast,’ said Batman, ‘we think it is better to go to his next book and surprise him. Until now he has been following you, it is time to catch up on him.’
‘So where will he be next?’ I asked.
‘The book that brought you two together. As has been said, only together you can stop him. It has to be this book.’ Blue was about to hand me a small yellow-bound book when the earth started shaking.
‘What just happened?’ Mary Mary asked.
We all ran towards the windows and peered outside. We saw the ground shake and open up. An abyss appeared. People and creatures fell in and others crawled out. The cracks in the sky became bigger and brighter. Red light was seeping out into the blue and colored the entire world into a dark, bloody picture. It felt like the world was exploding and ground and sky alike was falling apart. Our view became distorted and the world was a darker place. The things that crawled out of the abyss or fell out of the sky started attacking everyone and everything in sight.
‘We need to do something. We can’t just let them all die.’ Watson screamed.
‘I say we fight them, hold them off long enough so Polly and Poe can get through to fiction.’ Batman said even more gravelly than usual.
‘I’m in.’ Thursday said with a hand on her gun. ‘Does everyone have a weapon?’
Most detectives off course, didn’t have a weapon, gadgets or crazy fighting skills. But these weren’t normal detectives. One by one they all took out a weapon or created one on the spot. Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle both took out a pen and paper and sat down at a table.
‘I guess we are the only ones without a weapon…’ Poe said to me.
‘I didn’t think we needed one… not a real weapon at least.’
‘You don’t.’ Guy said. ‘The Writingdesk Conundrum won’t be defeated with simple weaponry. Oscar and Arthur will make sure you have what you need. As writers, they construct the fictional world. They will be able to assist you in your battle. Whatever you need, they will make sure you’ll get it.’
‘How will they know when we need something and what we need?’
‘We have the book.’ Oscar said with a smile. ‘Whatever happens in there, we’ll be able to read here. With this rupture in fiction, you two don’t just visit the stories anymore, you actually change them. All you have to do is think about something or say it and we’ll try to write it.’
‘But why can’t we just write the Writingdesk Conundrum dead?’ Poe had a valid point here.
Arthur Conan Doyle got up from his chair and walked over to the window.
‘He is too strong for us to just write him out. The Writingdesk Conundrum isn’t just fiction, he’s also human. We can’t change humans in fiction, only fiction itself. So don’t try to wish for superpowers, we can’t manage that.’
Another loud bang followed from outside and Guy hastened to the window.
‘You have to go. Once you’ll find him, you’ll know what to do.’
‘I hate it when they say that! What if I don’t!’ I suddenly screamed. It was the worst advice anyone could give you in storytelling.
‘It’s all we can tell you. Now hurry, you have to go.’ Guy pushed us in the middle of the army of detectives and walked to the front.
Everyone followed towards the front gate and as we entered the lawn we saw the chaos and destruction fiction was doing upon the real world.
‘This isn’t right.’ I said. ‘This is not what fiction is supposed to do.’
Poe took my hand and squeezed it.
‘We’ll fix it. I promise.’
All the detectives took their position. Batman, Guy and Thursday were at the front, me and Poe right behind them. Dirk had our back, together with Mary Mary and Jack. Blue, Holmes and Watson were turned towards everyone, keeping an eye out. Through the window, we saw Oscar and Arthur writing like madman. As an army we looked upon the world before us, we stood still for a moment, taking everything in until Guy shouted.