McGuffin and the London Peril
By Jeff Baker
Delmar and I were waiting on a cab and made the mistake of going back into the clubroom and old Plunkett asked about the fog.
“That fog out there is nothing,” the voice came from the far chair. “The fog some years ago caused people to disappear.”
McGuffin sat in his regular chair and sipped his whiskey. We couldn’t stop him from talking so we sat down and listened.
I was a much younger man (McGuffin said) and eager for adventure. So, when the third man, this time and MP vanished in the fog, the authorities called me, based on my work with Intelligence. There were no signs of foul play, except three people were gone. The MP had been seen last just a few blocks away from the Houses of Parliament, umbrella in hand. No trace had been found. I realized three other things the men had in common: They were male, they were unmarried and they were alone at the time they were last seen. There was another man, Kensington, who had said he had, well, felt something when he was out in the same area at the same time in an earlier evening. As I remember we had quite the time questioning him. Kensington was deaf as a post and too vain to use his hearing aid.
And that was when I realized what was happening.
I outlined my suspicions to the other investigators; one of the legendary Sirens, such as Jason and the Argonauts had faced. This one only seemed to affect the unmarried, but the solution was simple; no unmarried male should go walking in the area except in the company of a married man or a woman. Small marching bands were placed around the streets to drown out the Siren’s song. And we needed do this only until the weather changed.
McGuffin paused and finished his whiskey.
“The weather?” I asked. “What about the weather?”
“The same unseasonably warm currents that had helped bring the fog had brought the Siren with it from the area of the Pillars of Hercules. When the water cooled, the Siren left. Ahh!”
McGuffin’s reaction was to the waiter bringing a plate of sole and another whiskey.
“This fish,” McGuffin said, “is far less dangerous.”