Part One: The Whimper of Whipped Cream
Then he woke up and realised it had all been a psychotic episode.
Dr. Hercules wiped the sweat from his brow and smiled sheepishly at Margaret, his Lover, who was standing in the ensuite doorway, shielding her modesty with an origami swan.
"I apologise if I said or did anything to cause you concern," Hercules told her. "I deduce from the scratch marks on my arms that I was having the 'burrowing cockroach' hallucination again."
"You...you said they were trying to get into your veins so they could eat your [gulp] immortal heart!"
Hercules roared. Then he laughed.
"Oh, the grotesque consequences of a psychotropic drug habit! I keep meaning to give the things up, but then I think, no, what if next time I don't have visions of vampiric sandwiches or I don't attempt to ride the neighbour's dog to Spain? Think what I might miss out on!"
Margaret fled the room in tears. Captain Mustaki entered, twirling his multifarious moustaches.
“Ah, my dear Captain,” said Hercules, “friend, confidante and subordinate partner in the most successful crime-fighting duo since Cagney and Lacey. How goes it?”
“Poorly, Hercules, poorly,” replied Mustaki. “For you see, there has been a murder!”
“Tell me Mustaki, were there any chickens involved?”
“Chickens. You know, fowl?”
The Captain’s left moustache drooped. “No,” he said quietly.
“Mustaki," Hercules said sternly, "you need to find yourself a good woman, impregnate her with your moustachioed seed and have her gestate you a sense of humour.” Hercules leapt to his feet, almost knocking Mustaki sideways with his flailing appendage.
"Thank you for the tip, sir," Mustaki said as he watched Hercules dress.
"Well, best be careful or I'll give you the rest," replied Hercules, donning his pince-nez and codpiece.
"This crime..." Mustaki paused for a moment, lost in thought, "...it disturbs me, Hercules."
"Well, by virtue of its being a murder. You know how sensitive I am about that sort of thing."
"And, sir," Mustaki paused again, before gulping down the oyster of trepidation and continuing: "and there is also the minor fact that the victim is, well, your exact physical double!"
The house trembled as Hercules hit the floor.
"Bastard floor," he said. "That'll learn you to creak in my presence! Now, Mustaki, what was it you were saying?"
The Captain's right moustache drooped.
"Never mind, sir. However, your inattention reminds me of a story old Grandma Moustakopoulos used to tell on dark nights when the goats were in season and the olive preserves were nervous."
Suddenly the power went out, plunging Hercules and Mustaki into slightly less light than they had been enjoying. Simultaneously there was a scream from downstairs.
"Margaret!" cried Hercules, racing out the bedroom door.
"Hercules!" cried Mustaki, racing out after him.
"Mustaki!" cried Hercules's valet who had all this time been standing silently at the foot of the bed. As the valet began spot-cleaning Hercules's mattress he pondered the fate of his master and his master's faithful servant, Mustaki, of whom his master was also master.
"What adventures they will have!" he remarked, shaking his head and kneeling to better attack a particularly crusty deposit. "What adventures they will have!"
Will the valet's prediction come true? Will Mustaki be allowed to finish his doubtless fascinating Old World folk tale? What is the fate of Margaret? And what of the body, Hercules's mysterious doppelganger? Answers to these questions and others should be sent to the usual address because frankly we're all out of ideas.
This story originally appeared in Amazing Sterne Stories! Vol. 18.