The church clock strikes eight, so those villagers who are awake know without checking that it is six. A cock crows. A body lies across the doorway of the church, a line of crumb-carrying ants marches across the fedora covering its face. There is a serene, momentary quiet after the chimes cease. A figure 2 glides past the church wall, before the silence is cracked by a baby crying.
‘I fear we have a cereal killer at work here, Watson.’
‘That’s incredible, Holmes, how do you deduce that?’
‘Two hours have gone missing, which will no doubt result in riots just as in the last century when the government decided to move the clocks forward to Summer Time. A witness has spoken of seeing a figure of two hours leaving the scene of the crime. The crumbs that the ants are carrying appear to be from a brand of breakfast food made from maize. I think you will find that the corpse is that of an American citizen from Cincinnatti. Only an American would wear a fedora in a churchyard at this time in the morning with brown shoes. Please be so kind as to check his pockets for any identification, Watson.’
‘By jove, Holmes, that is amaizeing, his driving licence shows he is Dr Kellogg from Cincinnati.’
‘Thank you, Watson, but please leave the puns to me.’
‘Righto, Holmes, old boy, but where does the cock come into the story?’
‘I would be very surprised that, when we turn the body over, if we do not find a cornflake packet there with the famous picture of the cockerel on the front.’
‘Would you help me roll the body over please, Sergeant Doodlegregg, my good fellow? asked Watson.
‘Certainly Sir,’ said the sergeant, taking off his cape and lying it on the damp grass. They rolled the body on to it with a great effort from the policeman.
‘Why are you out of breath sergeant?’ asked the good doctor.
‘Oi’ve been getting rather a large belly recently, sir so I’ve been on one of those new-fangled low carb diets.’
‘Those diets are a waist of time, if you ask me,’ affirmed Watson
‘No one is and I’ve told you before about those puns, Watson.’
‘Sorry Holmes. We have found the cereal packet that you predicted. I assume that confirms your suspicions?’
‘Yes, partly but I am wondering if there have been any other suspicious deaths in the village recently Sergeant?’ enquired Holmes.
‘Well not really, Sir. There was Mrs Scott, of course, who was found dead at her home in Alpen Crescent last week. She had been stabbed twenty seven times in the back. A clear case of suicide we thought.
Ten days ago we found the bodies of three patients in the local mental hospital. We put it down as a random nut cluster at the time.
Then, I suppose, we should include all bran stoker’s family who disappeared last year. That case kept us going down at the station for a while, I can tell you’
‘Thank you sergeant. Wait! Can you hear that noise?’
‘Do you mean that baby crying, Holmes?’ said Watson.
‘No, you idiot, that is just the new year. I meant the other sound, that is the crack of dawn if I am not very much mistaken.’
‘But, who killed all these people in the village?’ asked Watson.
‘I think you will find that our sergeant here has a lot to answer for in this case. Please check his breath. I expect him to have a very bad case of halitosis caused by his body burning fat and going into ketosis. His breath will smell of acetone. You will understand this better than me, Watson, being a medical man. I think a bowl of muesli will force a confession from him’
‘You are an incredible detective, Holmes,’ muttered Watson as he poured half a pint of best semi skim into the cereal bowl.
© Richard Kefford Eorðdraca
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