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Sherlock, Season 1, episode 2 transcript: The Blind Banker, part 3
Return to part 1 / Return to part 2 / Jump to part 4
Many thanks to toviv, who kindly provided the (mostly) Cantonese and its translation. [Comments from viewers about the production team’s poor use of the language and the general insulting lack of attention to proper detail can be seen at the bottom of this page.]
John has now arrived and he and Soo Lin sit on stools on opposite sides of the table. Sherlock stands at the end of the table.
SOO LIN: You saw the cipher. Then you know he is coming for me.
SHERLOCK: You’ve been clever to avoid him so far.
SOO LIN: I had to finish ... to finish this work. It’s only a matter of time. I know he will find me.
SHERLOCK: Who is he? Have you met him before?
SOO LIN (nodding): When I was a girl, living back in China. I recognise his ... ‘signature.’
SHERLOCK: The cipher.
SOO LIN: Only he would do this. Zhi Zhu.
JOHN: Zhi Zhu?
SHERLOCK: The Spider.
(Putting her right foot up on her opposite knee, Soo Lin unlaces her shoe and takes it off. On the underside of her heel is a black tattoo of a lotus flower inside a circle.)
SOO LIN: You know this mark?
SHERLOCK: Yes. It’s the mark of a Tong.
SHERLOCK: Ancient crime syndicate based in China.
(John nods his understanding and turns back to Soo Lin.)
SOO LIN: Every foot soldier bears the mark; everyone who hauls for them.
(She looks up at him. His eyes widen.)
JOHN: Y-you mean you were a smuggler?
(She lowers her gaze and puts her shoe back on.)
SOO LIN: I was fifteen. My parents were dead. I had no livelihood; no way of surviving day to day except to work for the bosses.
SHERLOCK: Who are they?
SOO LIN: They are called the Black Lotus. By the time I was sixteen, I was taking thousands of pounds’ worth of drugs across the border into Hong Kong. But I managed to leave that life behind me. I came to England.
(She smiles a little.)
SOO LIN: They gave me a job here. Everything was good; a new life.
SHERLOCK: Then he came looking for you.
SOO LIN: Yes.
(Upset, she swallows before continuing tearfully.)
SOO LIN: I had hoped after five years maybe they would have forgotten me, but they never really let you leave. A small community like ours – they are never very far away.
(She wipes tears from her face.)
SOO LIN: He came to my flat. He asked me to help him to track down something that was stolen.
JOHN: And you’ve no idea what it was?
SOO LIN: I refused to help.
JOHN (leaning forward): So you knew him well when you were living back in China?
SOO LIN: Oh yes.
(She looks up at Sherlock.)
SOO LIN: He’s my brother.
(Elsewhere, the hands of what is presumably a woman wearing black nail varnish open a box and fold back the tissue paper covering the contents. The box contains sheets of black paper. The hands take out the top sheet and lay it on the table.)
SOO LIN: Two orphans. We had no choice. We could work for the Black Lotus, or starve on the streets like beggars.
(The hands have folded the sheet of paper a few times, pressing down to set the folds, and now open the sheet out flat again. They fold one of the corners up, then turn the paper around to start folding up the opposite corner.)
SOO LIN: My brother has become their puppet, in the power of the one they call Shan – the Black Lotus general.
(The hands continue folding the paper.)
SOO LIN: I turned my brother away. He said I had betrayed him. Next day I came to work and the cipher was waiting.
(The hands have nearly completed their work and the paper is now folded into an intricate shape.)
(In the museum, Sherlock lays the photographs on the table.)
SHERLOCK: Can you decipher these?
(Soo Lin leans forward and points to the mark beside Sir William’s portrait.)
SOO LIN: These are numbers.
SHERLOCK: Yes, I know.
SOO LIN (pointing to another photograph): Here: the line across the man’s eyes – it’s the Chinese number one.
SHERLOCK (pointing to the first photo): And this one is fifteen. But what’s the code?
SOO LIN: All the smugglers know it. It’s based upon a book ...
(Just then almost all the lights go out. Soo Lin looks up in dread. Sherlock straightens up and looks around sharply.)
SOO LIN (softly, her face full of terror): He’s here. Zhi Zhu. He has found me.
(And Sherlock’s off, racing across the room. John calls to him softly but urgently.)
JOHN: Sh-Sherlock. Sherlock, wait!
(Sherlock charges out of the room. John turns to Soo Lin and grabs her hand.)
JOHN: Come here.
(He pulls her across the room towards another room, or possibly a cupboard – it’s not clear which.)
JOHN: Get in. Get in!
(Sherlock races across a large open foyer with a staircase at each end and a balcony surrounding the floor above. He stops in the middle of the foyer and looks around. From his right, a figure runs across the balcony and fires a pistol at him. Sherlock turns and runs in the opposite direction, flinging himself to the floor and sliding along it to take shelter behind a statue on a low plinth. The figure fires a couple more times as Sherlock scrambles behind the plinth. In the restoration room, John looks up at the sound of gunfire, then turns to Soo Lin.)
JOHN: I have to go and help. Bolt the door after me.
(He hurries off. Soo Lin’s face fills with dread. John makes his way cautiously out into the foyer, then ducks and runs for cover as more gunshots ring out. The figure runs back across the balcony and disappears from view. Sherlock comes out from behind the plinth and hares across the foyer and up the stairs. John peers out from behind a column at the other end of the foyer as Sherlock reaches the top of the stairs and tears around the corner. He pelts into another display room and the gunman runs out of cover behind him and fires towards him again. Sherlock ducks behind a display cabinet displaying some ancient skulls as the figure fires again.)
SHERLOCK (calling out): Careful!
(The gunman fires again.)
SHERLOCK (calling out): Some of those skulls are over two hundred thousand years old! Have a bit of respect!
(He pauses for a couple of seconds, breathing heavily. There are no more gunshots.)
SHERLOCK: Thank you(!)
(There’s no more sound from the gunman. After a moment Sherlock frowns, then carefully peers through the glass of the case.)
(In the restoration room, Soo Lin looks up anxiously. [A drum beat begins to sound. Again, I’m not sure whether she actually hears this or if it’s dramatic background music, but she closes her eyes in despair at the same moment. Upstairs, Sherlock also looks around as if he can hear the drumming and on the landing, John looks around too. As the drumming stops,] Soo Lin takes a shaky breath and slowly begins to crawl out of her hiding place. On the desk, paperwork is fluttering in a slight breeze. Soo Lin crawls to the edge of the table and peers over the top of it before slowly standing up. Behind her, a Chinese man a little older than her silently walks up and stops just behind her, staring at her intently. As if sensing him, she turns slowly around, and then gazes at him with affection when she recognises him. She softly greets him by name.)
SOO LIN: 亮 [Liang.]
(She hesitates for a moment.)
SOO LIN: 大哥 [Big brother.]
(She reaches out and cups his face with her hand.)
SOO LIN: 请你 [Please ...]
(As John continues to search for his friend, a single gunshot rings out in the distance. He turns towards the sound, his face filling with appalled horror when he realises where the shot has come from.)
JOHN: Oh my God.
(He races back to the stairs and runs down them, across the foyer and back to the restoration room. Entering the room, he slows down and looks around cautiously for any sign of the gunman. Carefully making his way across the room, he stops and then groans in despair and guilt at the sight which greets him. Soo Lin lies dead on the table, her outstretched arm revealing a black origami lotus flower in her upturned hand.)
NEW SCOTLAND YARD. John and Sherlock are standing a short distance away from Dimmock who has his back to them and is rummaging through paperwork on a desk as if trying to ignore them.
JOHN: How many murders is it gonna take before you start believing that this maniac’s out there?
(Dimmock turns and walks in between them, heading for another desk. John turns round and follows him.)
JOHN: A young girl was gunned down tonight. That’s three victims in three days. You’re supposed to be finding him.
(Sherlock walks across in front of John to get closer to Dimmock. John steps back and walks a few paces away in exasperation.)
SHERLOCK: Brian Lukis and Eddie Van Coon were working for a gang of international smugglers – a gang called the Black Lotus operating here in London right under your nose.
(He has leaned closer to Dimmock to emphasise his last point. Dimmock finally looks round to him.)
DIMMOCK: Can you prove that?
(Sherlock straightens up thoughtfully.)
ST BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL. In the canteen, mortician Molly Hooper is looking at the choices in the self-service display.
SHERLOCK: What are you thinking: pork or the pasta?
(She turns in surprise at his voice beside her.)
MOLLY: Oh, it’s you!
SHERLOCK: This place is never going to trouble Egon Ronay, is it?
(He smiles at her, then nods to the display.)
SHERLOCK: I’d stick with the pasta. Don’t wanna be doing roast pork – not if you’re slicing up cadavers.
(Again he smiles at her. She grins nervously.)
MOLLY: What are you having?
SHERLOCK: Don’t eat when I’m working. Digesting slows me down.
MOLLY: So you’re working here tonight?
SHERLOCK: Need to examine some bodies.
SHERLOCK: Eddie Van Coon and Brian Lukis.
MOLLY (looking at the clipboard she’s holding): They’re on my list.
(Sherlock turns puppy-dog eyes on her.)
SHERLOCK: Could you wheel them out again for me?
MOLLY (apologetically): Well ... the paperwork’s already gone through.
(Sherlock lifts his eyes a little as if noticing something, and points at her hair.)
SHERLOCK: You’ve ... changed your hair.
MOLLY (nervously): What?
SHERLOCK: The-the style: it’s usually parted in the middle.
MOLLY: Yes, well ...
SHERLOCK: Mmm, it’s good; it, um, suits you better this way.
(Once again he wheels out the smile. She returns it, looking both flattered and flustered, then turns away to the display, smiling nervously. Instantly Sherlock’s smile drops and he looks impatiently at his watch.)
MORGUE. Later, two body bags are lying on adjacent tables. Molly, wearing latex gloves, unzips the top of one of the bags and pulls the sides apart to reveal the face of Brian Lukis. Sherlock leads Dimmock into the room.
SHERLOCK: We’re just interested in the feet.
MOLLY (frowning): The feet?
SHERLOCK: Yes. D’you mind if we have a look at them?
(Smiling at her, he leads Dimmock to the other end of the body bag. Molly follows him and unzips the bag at that end, pulling the sides back to reveal the bottom of Lukis’ feet. On the bottom of the right heel is a tattoo identical to the one which Soo Lin showed the boys earlier. Sherlock straightens up, a smug expression on his face, and walks over to the other table.)
SHERLOCK: Now Van Coon.
(Molly and Dimmock follow him to the second table and she unzips the other body bag. Van Coon has an identical tattoo on his right heel. Dimmock sighs silently.)
DIMMOCK (awkwardly): So ...
SHERLOCK: So either these two men just happened to visit the same Chinese tattoo parlour or I’m telling the truth.
DIMMOCK (sighing in resignation): What do you want?
SHERLOCK: I want every book from Lukis’ apartment and Van Coon’s.
DIMMOCK: Their books?
221B. The boys walk into the living room, taking off their coats. John sits down in his chair; Sherlock remains standing.
SHERLOCK: Not just a criminal organisation; it’s a cult. Her brother was corrupted by one of its leaders.
JOHN: Soo Lin said the name.
SHERLOCK: Yes, Shan; General Shan.
JOHN: We’re still no closer to finding them.
SHERLOCK: Wrong. We’ve got almost all we need to know. She gave us most of the missing pieces.
(He looks at John, waiting for him to agree. When John says nothing, he impatiently explains.)
SHERLOCK: Why did he need to visit his sister? Why did he need her expertise?
JOHN: She worked at the museum.
JOHN (finally catching up): An expert in antiquities. Mmm, of course. I see.
SHERLOCK: Valuable antiquities, John. Ancient Chinese relics purchased on the black market. China’s home to a thousand treasures hidden after Mao’s revolution.
JOHN: And the Black Lotus is selling them.
(Sherlock tilts his head as he has an idea.)
Not long afterwards, he is sitting at the dining table surfing Crispians’ website for recent auctions, focusing on the auctions of Chinese and other Asian works of art. John is leaning over his shoulder to look at the screen.
SHERLOCK (to himself as he skims through the list): Check for the dates ...
(He points to a particular auction lot – two Chinese Ming vases.)
SHERLOCK: Here, John.
SHERLOCK: Arrived from China four days ago.
(He runs his finger down the details and looks at the Sale Information at the bottom which includes the statement “Source – Anonymous.”)
SHERLOCK: Anonymous. Vendor doesn’t give his name. Two undiscovered treasures from the East.
JOHN: One in Lukis’ suitcase and one in Van Coon’s.
(Sherlock moves to the Quest search site and types into the search bar, narrating as he does so, although he actually types the word “Chinese” first.)
SHERLOCK: ... antiquities sold at auction.
(The results list comes up.)
SHERLOCK: Look, here’s another one.
SHERLOCK: Arrived from China a month ago: Chinese ceramic statue, sold four hundred thousand.
[As in, it sold for £400,000.]
JOHN (consulting Lukis’ diary after he spots another entry on the screen): Ah, look: a month before that – a Chinese painting, half a million.
SHERLOCK: All of them from an anonymous source. They’re stealing them back in China and one by one they’re feeding them into Britain.
(He looks at Lukis’ diary again and then at the printout of Van Coon’s calendar.)
JOHN: And every single auction coincides with Lukis or Van Coon travelling to China.
SHERLOCK: So what if one of them got greedy when they were in China? What if one of them stole something?
JOHN: That’s why Zhi Zhu’s come.
(Mrs Hudson knocks on the open door of the living room.)
MRS HUDSON: Ooh-ooh!
(The boys turn to her.)
MRS HUDSON: Sorry. Are we collecting for charity, Sherlock?
MRS HUDSON: A young man’s outside with crates of books.
Shortly afterwards, two uniformed police officers are carrying in yet another plastic crate to add to the many which have already been dumped in the living room.
SHERLOCK: So, the numbers are references.
JOHN: To books.
SHERLOCK: To specific pages and specific words on those pages.
JOHN: Right, so ... fifteen and one: that means ...
SHERLOCK: Turn to page fifteen and it’s the first word you read.
JOHN: Okay. So what’s the message?
SHERLOCK (snarkily): Depends on the book. That’s the cunning of the book code. Has to be one that they both owned.
(John looks round despairingly at the many many crates in the room, each either labelled “Van Coon” or “Lukis.”)
JOHN: Okay, right. Well, this shouldn’t take too long, should it?(!)
(He goes over to the nearest crate and flips open the lid, sighing tiredly when he sees the amount of books inside. Sherlock opens another crate and starts taking out books, looking at the cover of each one. John takes a handful from his crate and carries them over to the dining table and sits down. Dimmock walks in and holds up an evidence bag to Sherlock.)
DIMMOCK: We found these, at the museum.
(He shows the bag to John. It contains the photographs of the cipher which Sherlock had been showing to Soo Lin.)
DIMMOCK: Is this your writing?
JOHN (taking the bag): Uh, we hoped Soo Lin could decipher it for us. Ta.
(Dimmock nods and turns back to Sherlock, who is still unloading his crate.)
DIMMOCK: Anything else I can do? To assist you, I mean?
SHERLOCK (without looking up): Some silence right now would be marvellous.
(Dimmock stares at him, then looks across to John, who shakes his head apologetically. Biting his lip and trying not to cry at not being allowed to play with the big boys, Dimmock turns and leaves the room.
Sherlock takes out a book from a crate and realises that he’s already got one like it from another crate. He puts them side by side – hard backed copies of Iain Banks’ “Transition.” Opening one of them to page fifteen, he looks at the first word on the page and then narrates the word in exasperated disappointment.)
(Slamming the book closed, he puts both versions on top of the pile on the desk.)
(Sherlock goes back to rummaging through crates while John puts his pile onto the floor and crosses the room to get more books from a crate. Time moves on and later Sherlock finds two more identical books, “Freakonomics,” from the two men’s collections. He flicks to page fifteen, which is the beginning of a chapter headed “What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?” Moving down to the first word of the chapter, he reads it and then looks up in frustration.)
(Again he dumps the two books on John’s pile. Time moves on again and now it’s day time. Sherlock has removed his jacket and John has taken off his cardigan but they’re still in the same positions we last saw them. Again time moves on and now the daylight is even brighter outside. Books are scattered everywhere over the table and the floor and some of the crates have been shifted about. As Sherlock runs his fingers through his hair and then looks around at the crates and sighs, an alarm goes off on John’s watch. He looks at it and then out of the window as if to confirm that it really is the morning. He sighs tiredly and buries his head in his hands.)
DOCTORS’ SURGERY. The receptionist looks up apologetically at the first person in a queue of patients waiting to speak to her.
RECEPTIONIST: I’m sorry to keep you waiting.
(Someone in the queue sighs pointedly.)
RECEPTIONIST: But we haven’t got anything now ’til next Thursday.
(The woman at the front of the queue turns aside with an exasperated look on her face.)
WOMAN’s VOICE (offscreen): This is taking ages.
RECEPTIONIST: Er, sorry.
(Sarah Sawyer has been walking through the waiting room but now turns back and comes over to the reception.)
WOMAN’s VOICE (offscreen): What’s the point of making an appointment if they can’t even stick to it?
SARAH (to the receptionist): Um, what’s going on?
RECEPTIONIST (quietly): That new doctor you hired – he hasn’t buzzed the intercom for ages.
SARAH: Let me go and have a word.
RECEPTIONIST: Yeah, thanks.
SARAH (to the queue as she walks away): ’Scuse me.
RECEPTIONIST (to the queue): Sorry.
WOMAN’s VOICE (offscreen): What did she just say?
(Sarah goes to John’s consulting room and knocks on the door.)
(She waits a few seconds but gets no reply.)
(When there’s still no reply, she opens the door and looks inside. John is sitting behind the desk, his head propped up on one fist, and is fast asleep and snoring gently.)
Much later, he comes out of his consulting room putting on his coat and walks over to Sarah who is standing behind the reception desk. He clears his throat awkwardly.
JOHN: Um, looks like I’m done. I thought I had some more to see.
SARAH: Oh, I did one or two of yours.
JOHN: One or two?
SARAH: Well, maybe five or six.
JOHN: I’m sorry. That’s not very professional.
SARAH: No. No, not really.
JOHN: I had, um, a bit of a late one.
SARAH: Oh, right.
JOHN: Anyway, see you.
(He turns to walk away.)
SARAH: So, um, what were you doing to keep you up so late?
JOHN (turning back to her): Uh, I was, er, attending a sort of book event.
SARAH: Oh. Oh, she likes books, does she, your ... your girlfriend?
(She looks down fake-nonchalantly.)
JOHN: Mmm? No, it wasn’t a date.
SARAH (too quickly): Good. (She rapidly tries to cover.) I mean, um ...
JOHN: And I don’t have one tonight.
(They smile at each other, John looking down almost in disbelief as if thinking, ‘Oh good grief, I’ve just pulled!’)
221B. Sherlock is still working on the crates but now tries a different tack.
SHERLOCK: A book that everybody would own.
(He turns to his bookcase and pulls down the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the Holy Bible and a third book which we can’t see the title of. Putting them on top of the nearest crate, he opens the dictionary to the correct page.)
SHERLOCK: Fifteen. Entry one.
(The word is “add”. He moves on to the last book he took down, which some fantastic research by donutgirl has revealed is called “Syphilis and local contagious disorders” by Berkeley Hill. [And, as she points out, just why does Sherlock think that this is ‘a book that everybody would own’?!] The first word on page 15 is “nostrils”. Putting that aside and flicking to page 15 of the Bible, partway through the Book of Genesis, the first word is “I”. As he closes the book, and John’s bedroom door slams shut, he props his elbows on the crate and runs his fingers through his hair, ruffling it up. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the imminent arrival of his flatmate, who now walks into the room having changed into clean clothes.)
SHERLOCK: I need to get some air. We’re going out tonight.
JOHN: Actually, I’ve, er, got a date.
(He smiles smugly.)
JOHN: It’s where two people who like each other go out and have fun.
SHERLOCK: That’s what I was suggesting.
JOHN: No it wasn’t ... at least I hope not.
SHERLOCK (looking sulky): Where are you taking her?
JOHN: Er, cinema.
SHERLOCK: Oh, dull, boring, predictable.
(He has taken a piece of paper from his trouser pocket as he walks across to John, and lowers his head to hide a smug smile before handing it to him.)
SHERLOCK: Why don’t you try this?
(John takes it and looks at the piece of paper, which is the strip of poster that Sherlock tore off the wall during the search for the yellow paint. The poster advertises the Yellow Dragon Circus and gives the telephone number of the Box Office.)
SHERLOCK: In London for one night only.
(John chuckles, then offers the paper back to Sherlock.)
JOHN: Thanks, but I don’t come to you for dating advice.
EVENING. John and Sarah are walking up the slope towards a building.
SARAH: It’s years since anyone took me to the circus.
JOHN (chuckling nervously): Right, yes! Well, it’s ... a friend recommended it to me. He phoned up.
SARAH: Ah. What are they, a touring company or something?
JOHN: I don’t know much about it.
(They pause and look at a number of large red Chinese lanterns strung outside the hall.)
SARAH: I think they’re probably from China!
JOHN: Yes, I think ... I think so, yes. (Quietly) There’s a coincidence(!)
(They go inside to the Box Office where the manager is giving a customer her tickets.)
CUSTOMER: That’s wonderful. Thank you very much.
(The customer turns and walks up the nearby stairs and John goes over to the office.)
JOHN: Hi. I have, er, two tickets reserved for tonight.
MANAGER: And what’s the name?
JOHN (taking his wallet from his jacket): Er, Holmes.
(The manager rifles through the reservations, then turns back to him with an envelope.)
MANAGER: Actually, I have three in that name.
JOHN: No, I don’t think so. We only booked two.
SHERLOCK (offscreen): And then I phoned back and got one for myself as well.
(John looks up in disbelief and turns as Sherlock walks over to them, looking at Sarah. He offers her his hand.)
SHERLOCK: I’m Sherlock.
(Sarah glances at John momentarily, then turns back to the new arrival and shakes his hand a little nervously. John turns away in exasperation.)
SARAH: Er, hi.
(He gives her his fake smile, then instantly turns and walks away.)
Not long afterwards the boys are standing a few steps up the stairs while people make their way past them. Sarah isn’t with them – presumably she has nipped off to the loo. The boys keep their voices down as they talk.
JOHN: You couldn’t let me have just one night off?
SHERLOCK: Yellow Dragon Circus, in London for one day. It fits. The Tong sent an assassin to England ...
JOHN: ... dressed as a tightrope walker. Come on, Sherlock, behave!
SHERLOCK: We’re looking for a killer who can climb, who can shin up a rope. Where else would you find that level of dexterity? Exit visas are scarce in China. They need a pretty good reason to get out of that country. Now, all I need to do is have a quick look round the place ...
JOHN: Fine. You do that; I’m gonna take Sarah for a pint.
SHERLOCK (sternly): I need your help.
JOHN: I do have a couple of other things on my mind this evening!
SHERLOCK: Like what?
(John blinks, staring at him in disbelief.)
JOHN: You are kidding.
SHERLOCK: What’s so important?
JOHN: Sherlock, I’m right in the middle of a date. D’you want me to chase some killer while I’m trying to ...
(He breaks off.)
JOHN (losing his patience and talking much louder): ... while I’m trying to get off with Sarah!
(And inevitably Sarah comes around the corner at that moment. John turns to her and smiles awkwardly.)
(Rolling his eyes, Sherlock turns and heads up the stairs.)
JOHN (to Sarah): Ready?
(They follow Sherlock up the stairs.)
In the performance area there’s a stage on one side of the large hall and the curtains are closed. However, it seems that the stage is not going to be used: a circle of candles has been laid out in the middle of the floor, about thirty feet in diameter. The room is dimly lit. The patrons are gathering around the circle but there are no seats. Apparently the number of tickets has been limited and there’s room for everyone to stand around the circle with a clear view. Sarah and John stand side by side while Sherlock stands behind them with his back to them, looking all around the room and peering up to the ceiling. John talks quietly over his shoulder to his flatmate, turning his head away from Sarah so that she can’t hear.
JOHN: You said circus. This is not a circus. Look at the size of this crowd. Sherlock, this is ... (he grimaces with distaste) ... art.
SHERLOCK (quietly over his shoulder): This is not their day job.
JOHN: No, sorry, I forgot. They’re not a circus; they’re a gang of international smugglers.
(The performance begins with someone tapping out a rhythm on a tiny hand drum. Sherlock turns to face the same way as his companions and John looks over his shoulder at him. Sherlock quirks an eyebrow at him. An ornately costumed Chinese woman with a heavily painted face – traditionally known as the Opera Singer – walks into the centre of the circle and looks imperiously out at the audience before raising a hand in the air. The drummer finishes his riff. The Opera Singer walks across the circle to a large object covered with a cloth which she now pulls back to reveal an antique-looking crossbow on a stand. She picks up a long thick wooden arrow with white feathers at one end and a vicious metal point at the other and shows it to the audience before fitting it into place in the crossbow. Straightening up, she pulls a single small white feather from her headdress and again shows it to the audience. On the rear of the crossbow is a small metal cup and she gently drops the feather into it. Instantly the arrow is released and whizzes across the room. Sherlock’s head whips around to follow its flight while John and Sarah are still gasping at the sound of the arrow’s release. By the time they look round a moment later, the arrow is embedded in a large painted board on the other side of the circle. Sarah turns to John and laughs, dramatically putting her hand over her heart.
Instrumental music begins, and the audience applauds as a new character enters the circle, wearing chainmail and an ornate head mask. He holds his arms out to the sides and two men come over and start to attach heavy chains and straps to him, strapping his now-folded arms in front of him and then backing him up against the board and starting to chain him to it.)
SHERLOCK (softly): Classic Chinese escapology act.
(John and Sarah turn to him.)
SHERLOCK: The crossbow’s on a delicate string. The warrior has to escape his bonds before it fires.
(The Opera Singer loads another arrow into the crossbow. The men attach more padlocks and chains and one of them pulls a chain tight, yanking the warrior’s head back against the board. The warrior cries out. The men loop the chains through solid rings attached to the board and secure the warrior, who cries out again. Once they’ve finished, they step away. The music begins building in intensity and cymbals crash unexpectedly. Sarah jumps, clutching at John’s arm.)
SARAH: Oh, Gawd! I’m sorry!
(She laughs in embarrassment, taking his arm with her other hand as well. John laughs with her, then smiles delightedly as she lets go with her more distant hand but continues to hold onto his arm with the other. The Opera Singer picks up a small knife and displays it to the audience.)
SHERLOCK (softly): She splits the sandbag; the sand pours out; gradually the weight lowers into the bowl.
(The Opera Singer does just what Sherlock predicted – she reaches up to a small sandbag hanging on a long cable and stabs the knife into the bottom of the sack. Sand begins to pour out, and the warrior repeatedly cries out with effort as he tugs at his chains. The sandbag’s cable is looped over a pulley and a metal ball is attached to the other end. As the sand continues to pour out of the bag the weight lowers towards the bowl at the back of the crossbow. The warrior gets one hand free. John is watching the weight lower, and Sarah now looks nervously at it as it crosses paths with the sandbag on its way up. They turn to look at the warrior as he gets his other hand free and starts tugging at the chains around his neck. The weight is now only a few feet above the bowl and Sarah clings tightly to John’s arm, grimacing. The warrior cries out again as he pulls at his chains and the weight gets ever closer. As it almost reaches the lip of the bowl the warrior loosens the chains around his neck and struggles to free himself.
The weight touches the bowl and the arrow streaks across the room. With a split second to spare, the warrior pulls free of the chains and ducks down and the arrow thuds into the board. The warrior cries out triumphantly as the audience begins to applaud. Sarah gasps in relief.)
SARAH: Thank God.
JOHN: My God!
(The warrior stands up and takes the applause. Still clapping, John looks over his shoulder, but Sherlock has vanished. John looks around the hall but can’t see him anywhere.)
(Sherlock has made his way onto the stage, which is being used as the performers’ dressing room. There’s a dressing table with mirrors, free-standing clothes rails and many other items all around. He looks at everything and notices that it’s almost as if another warrior is standing nearby – except that the chainmail and mask are hanging on a stand.
In the performance area, the Opera Singer raises a hand to halt the audience’s applause.)
OPERA SINGER: Ladies and gentlemen, from the distant moonlight shores of the Yangtze River, we present for your pleasure the deadly Chinese bird-spider.
(As she walks away, a masked acrobat descends from the ceiling, rolling through the air as the broad red band wrapped around his waist unravels. The audience applauds and he stops a couple of feet above the ground, holding his body parallel to the floor.)
JOHN (to Sarah): Did you see that?!
(Descending to the floor, the acrobat removes the band from around his waist and splits it, revealing that it’s made up of two strips of material which he now wraps around his arms and then runs around the circle before taking his weight on the bands, lifting into the air and flying around in a circle several feet above the ground, the red bands soaring out behind him. Sarah and John – and presumably the rest of the audience – stare up open-mouthed.
On the stage, Sherlock goes over to the curtains and parts them slightly to look out at the performance. He looks with interest at the acrobat as he floats around.)
SHERLOCK (softly): Well, well.
(To the right of the stage, a door opens. Sherlock runs to take cover, pushing through the middle of the clothes on the clothes rail and then quickly spreading the items out again as the Opera Singer comes onto the stage. She goes over to the dressing table and picks up a mobile phone, checking it, but looks round sharply when one of the hangars on the rail falls to the floor. Sherlock ducks down. The Opera Singer walks toward the rail and Sherlock crouches even lower but she continues on and leaves the stage. Sherlock looks down and sees a bag on the floor near his feet. Flipping it open, he finds several spray cans inside. He picks up one of them and sees that it is labelled “Michigan.” A yellow band is across the bottom of the can denoting the colour of the paint.)
SHERLOCK (softly, in a sing-song voice): Found you.
(Standing up, he pushes through the clothes on the rail and walks over to the mirrors on the dressing table, shaking up the can as he goes. He bends down and sprays a single almost-horizontal yellow line across one of the mirrors. As he looks at it, the warrior’s costume behind him starts to move. Frowning, he turns around and realises that the costume is no longer on a stand and now has a man inside it. The man charges forward, lashing out at him repeatedly with a large knife. Sherlock ducks backwards to avoid the blows as the warrior presses forward.
Outside, John and Sarah are still watching the acrobat. On the other side of the circle, the closed curtains on the stage begin to billow in one particular place. John frowns at the curtains for a moment but is then distracted back to the acrobat.
On the stage, Sherlock uses the can he’s holding as a bit of a weapon, using it to block a blow from the warrior, ducking below the next swing of the man’s knife, then clouting the can across the man’s elbow. The warrior responds by kicking him hard in the stomach.
Outside, the acrobat does a dramatic roll down the bands. The audience applauds. Unnoticed, the curtains billow even more.
The warrior grabs Sherlock by the throat but drops his knife in the process. Sherlock lashes the man’s hand away from the neck and then sprays the can directly into his masked face before bundling into him and shoving him away firmly. The warrior falls onto his back but uses his momentum to raise his legs and then roll forward and flip to his feet again. He takes a flying leap at Sherlock, spinning as he goes and his feet hit him in the chest. Sherlock is propelled backwards through the curtains, straight over the edge of the stage and onto the floor a few feet below. Crashing onto his back, he struggles to get upright again but is too winded and can’t move much as the warrior comes flying out of the curtains and onto the floor in front of him. John is on the move straightaway, running towards the warrior as he raises a knife and prepares to plunge it downwards. John charges straight into him, pushing him back against the edge of the stage but the warrior lashes out with one foot, sending John stumbling across the room.
Nearby, as the audience flees, the acrobat takes off his mask, takes one look at the fight and decides he wants no part of it, running off. Only one person is heading towards the fight and that’s Sarah, who has pulled the large arrow from the painted board and comes charging across the hall while John is still stumbling across the floor trying to catch his balance and the warrior heads towards Sherlock who is still lying on the floor winded – and the warrior now has a wide-bladed sword in one hand. As he raises the sword above his head, his concentration focussed on delivering the killing blow to the man at his feet, Sarah races across the floor and slams one end of the arrow over the top of the warrior’s head. He cries out in pain and before he can react or retaliate she swings the arrow sideways and smashes it across his ribs. She instantly delivers a second blow to the same area and he falls to the ground, grunting and almost unconscious.
As Sarah straightens up, breathless, Sherlock finally
JOHN (almost voicelessly): Come on.
(Sherlock races off ahead of them.)
SHERLOCK: Come on! Let’s go!
NEW SCOTLAND YARD. D.I. Dimmock storms into the office, followed by the boys and a rather bewildered Sarah. Dimmock is clearly not in a good mood.
DIMMOCK: I sent a couple of cars. The old hall is totally deserted.
SHERLOCK: Look, I saw the mark at the circus – that tattoo that we saw on the two bodies: the mark of the Tong.
(Dimmock has reached his desk and has turned to face the others.)
JOHN: Lukis and Van Coon were part of a-a smuggling operation. Now, one of them stole something when they were in China; something valuable.
SHERLOCK: These circus performers were gang members sent here to get it back.
DIMMOCK: Get what back?
(Sherlock bites his lip, looking away angrily.)
JOHN (hesitantly): We don’t know.
DIMMOCK: You don’t know.
(Sherlock still won’t meet his eyes.)
DIMMOCK: Mr Holmes ...
(He sits down, while your transcriber wants to hug him very much for being the only person other than herself who she has ever heard sound the ‘L’ in ‘Holmes.’)
DIMMOCK: I’ve done everything you asked. Lestrade, he seems to think your advice is worth something.
(Sherlock lifts his head and gives a faint but proud smile.)
DIMMOCK: I gave the order for a raid. Please tell me I’ll have something to show for it – other than a massive bill for overtime.
Continue to Part 4