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In 1980, RAF Bentwaters and Woodbridge were plagued by UFO sightings that were never solved. Now a resident of Suffolk has died of fright during a new UFO encounter. On holiday in London, Sherlock Holmes and Skye Chadwick-Holmes are called upon by Her Majesty's Secret Service to investigate the death.


Chapter Excerpt




The Case of the Cosmological Killer

The Rendlesham Incident

SF mystery

Stephanie Osborn





"Leeming Tower, this is Blue-One-Niner; Tower, this is Blue-One-Niner."

"This is RAF Leeming. Go, Blue-One-Niner."

"Tower, I have visual at one o'clock low, approaching coast along south-southeast heading; range, estimated twelve klicks. Request verification and possible change of altitude."

"Blue-One-Niner, this is Tower. Please repeat visual info."

"Tower, Blue-One-Niner. Visual at one o'clock low, estimated range ten klicks and closing."

"Blue-One-Niner, Tower. I thought you said twelve klicks."

"Tower, One-Niner. I did; it's incoming."

"Blue-One-Niner, radar shows no other aircraft in your vicinity."

"Leeming, better look again. It's right there, range now…HOLY SHIT! It just accelerated! Range now seven kilometres and closing fast! I am executing evasive manoeuvers! Climbing to twelve thousand metres! Bogey heading south-southeast, nearing coastline…"

"Copy, Blue-One-Niner. Evasive manoeuvers; you are cleared to twelve thousand. Be advised, radar still shows no—hold one! Where the bloody hell did THAT come from?! Contact Fylingdales—you did? They don't? Roger that! All other traffic on this channel, this is Leeming Tower; please move to Channel Four immediately. Blue-One-Niner, this is Tower! Do you still have visual on bogey?"

"Roger, Tower! Closing fast…"

"You are authorised to pursue and bring down, peaceful preferred. Scrambling backup."

"Copy, pursue and bring down. If peaceful refused?"

"You are authorised to use whatever means necessary. If peaceful refused, consider hostile."

"Roger that. It's passing below me now. Turning to pursue."

"Copy that. Blue-One-Niner, can you identify aircraft? Radar signature is…inconclusive."

"Uh…Tower, that visual is an inconclusive, too. It doesn't look like any bloody aircraft I've ever seen. In fact, it doesn't even look like an aircraft…"


"It's a…big fuzzy ball, glowing kind of…yellowish-orange. And moving like a bat out of hell."

"Blue-One-Niner, please repeat last transmission. It sounded like you said a big fuzzy ball?"

"Affirm, Tower, that's exactly what I said. Think…giant tennis ball, only more orange. Still approaching coastline near Scarborough… correction! Bogey has changed heading! Damn! Stand by, Tower…"

"Leeming Tower standing by."

"Tower, this is Blue-One-Niner. I don't know what the blazes they've got, but it's way the hell more manoeuvreable than my Typhoon. They just executed a sharp turn to port, and I do mean sharp! I overshot by several miles inland, trying to make the turn. They are now paralleling the coastline, bearing southeast."

"Roger that, Blue-One-Niner. We…saw the turn on radar…"

"Yeah, you probably see something else, too."

"Roger that. Bogey is…ACCELERATING?!"

"Like that bat out of hell—on warp drive. Punching 'burners…"

"Blue-One-Niner, this is Leeming Tower. Report."

"Leeming, this is Blue-One-Niner. Sorry, mates, she's outstripped me by a long shot. Keep 'er on radar as long as you can, and try to anticipate and scramble interceptors. I've already almost lost visual."

"Roger that…"

* * *

Inside the radar room at RAF Fylingdales, the Officer of the Day discussed the situation with his chief technician.

"Are you sure?" the OD pressed his radar tech.

"Positive, sir," the tech replied, grim. "We've been watching it for the last five minutes, ever since it showed on radar. The only thing I know of that can travel that fast is a blasted Space Shuttle, and even they couldn't make manoeuvres like this ruddy thing is making. We're gathering all the radar data on it we can, profiles and such, but so far, we've not been able to put a plane close. Blue-One-Niner got a good visual on it, but that was sheer dumb luck."

"What kind of craft was One-Niner in? Recon?"

"A Typhoon, sir. And the bogey left it in the dust, even on full afterburners."

"Bollocks!" the OD exclaimed, shocked and gawking. "Left in the DUST? A TYPHOON?!"

"Like it was sitting still, as near as I can tell from air-to-ground transmissions. Radar supported the assessment, too."

The OD thought hard for several moments.

"Any idea where it's headed?"

"Yeah." The techie scowled.


"You're not gonna like it."

"Tell me anyway."

"Bentwaters." The engineer gazed solemnly at his superior. The OD blanched.

"Bugger. Get the brass on the bloody horn!"

* * *

Deep beneath the seemingly abandoned RAF Bentwaters base, ciphered telephones were ringing off their hooks. Frantic officers and enlisted personnel scurried about, attempting to ascertain under what sort of threat they were operating.

The underground facility itself was under full lockdown, with absolutely no sign of life visible to the outside.

And that was precisely how they wanted it.

Far overhead, in the deepening twilight sky, a glowing golden sphere floated, searching.

* * *

In the Headquarters of Her Majesty's Secret Service, the Director General was in her office, reviewing the dispatches as soon as they arrived.

"Not again," she muttered under her breath, obviously deeply concerned. "I thought we were done with this decades ago."

"Doesn't look like it, madam," Captain Braeden Ryker noted, subdued, handing her another report. "All hell is breaking loose out there, by the sound of it. Some of the public reports are probably spurious, and some of it—seventy-five percent, I'd say—likely due to hoaxes and copycats and just plain power of suggestion. But that still leaves the remaining twenty-five percent as real. We've got jets scrambled all along the coast, and except for the initial intercept, which was accidental, not one of our aircraft could even get close enough to see the thing." He looked down at the paper in his hand. "We did luck out on one point. Our local field office got a heads-up from Fylingdales at the same time they notified Bentwaters, and Gregory got his ass in gear with record speed. He mobilised a field team in time to have a gander at the object. They're still in the field, so we don't have word yet."

"Is it still out there?"

Ryker glanced again at the communiqué in his hand.

"Not according to the latest information, no, madam."

"Get a detail out there and start looking into the situation." The director shook her head, obviously gravely concerned.

"What about…?" Ryker began, then added candidly, "Do you want me to override Gregory, madam?"

"No, I want you to work WITH him," the Director declared with a wave of her hand. "Get some of the Headquarters experts out there right alongside his team—specialists, to aid him in his assessment, not supersede him. I know Gregory. He's a good man, with a good team. I simply want all the data we can gather. I want to know what this thing is, where it's from, what it's after, and I want to know five minutes ago."

"Right away, madam," Ryker nodded, exiting swiftly.

* * *

The field excursion team filed into the back of the nondescript office building, entering an equally bland conference room. They appeared to be college students and young professionals, clad in jeans or chinos and shirts, carrying attaché cases or backpacks, as appropriate. When the last of them arrived and the conference room door closed, they turned to the man in the corner.

"Here we go again, Gregory," the field team lead sighed, shaking his head. "It's the Halt transcript all over again, right down to the imagery in the night vision goggles."

"Any feeling of intent?"

"Definite intent," another remarked. "It was…looking…for something. A natural phenom doesn't sweep a grid pattern. This bugger did. Nice and precise, too."

"Blast and damnation," Gregory sighed. "What was it looking for? Any ideas?"

"That's the prize question, isn't it, boss?" the second field investigator shrugged. "If we could answer that, problem solved, and on to the next issue—which is, what to do about it?"

"Yeah," Gregory muttered. "Well, boys and girls, get your reports together fast. Headquarters is breathing down our necks. Word has it the Director General herself is involved, and you know to whom SHE reports. We're likely to have help soon. In fact, some experts are supposed to be coming down from London as we speak, to work alongside."

There was a collective groan from the room.

"All right, boss," the team lead noted. "Everyone, laptops out, reports in half an hour. Type fast."

* * *

Ryker came into the Director's office at speed, bearing the collected dispatches from the field office.

"Here you go, madam," he noted, handing them to the Secret Service director. "The latest on the phaenomenon. I can't say I'm pleased with the way this is headed."

The scowling director scanned through the reports, speed-reading. "Ah, I see your point. Are the subject matter experts on their way?"

"They are."

"Very good. Dismissed." As Ryker turned to leave, she changed her mind. "Ryker, wait a moment."

"Yes, madam?" He stopped, pivoting smartly on his heel to face her once more.

"Your…friends…in America…" She pondered briefly.

"Williams, madam?"

"No, the scientist and a certain detective." She threw a small grin at the agent.

"Ah," Ryker grinned back at her, "Dr. Skye Chadwick and Mr. Sherlock Holmes."

"The very ones. What are they doing at the present time?"

"I don't know offhand, madam, but I can contact Williams and find out," Ryker said. "I have strong reason to believe they may be coming across the Pond for a visit after the first of the year, however. Are you considering calling them in on this?"

"Possibly," the director confessed, looking over one of the dispatches. "Certainly they possess the specific expertise necessary to look into so abstruse a problem as this. They…" she paused, staring at the paper in her hand. "The night vision goggles showed a HOLE in the middle of the object?" She raised her head, gazing at Ryker in astonishment.

"Yes, ma'am. It makes no sense, I know, but that's just like it happened back in 1980."

"And you have every confidence in Chadwick and Holmes." She eyed Ryker sternly.

"Yes, ma'am," Ryker responded smartly, with confident emphasis.

"And this is really THE Sherlock Holmes?"

"Without doubt," Ryker smiled. His certainty was almost palpable. Despite this fact, the Director sighed without enthusiasm.

"Very well. Yes, Captain Ryker. Contact Captain Williams and have him ascertain their availability. Provide Williams with a detailed abstract of events through appropriately secure channels, and see to it he briefs Holmes and Chadwick on the matter as soon as possible. Ensure they are instructed to stand by in the event they are called in on the case."

"Consider it done." Ryker snapped off a salute before spinning and exiting the office.


Chapter 1—Detective Diaries

October 30

This is certainly not my usual notion of working out my thoughts.

Then again, it was hardly my idea.

To cut to the heart of the matter: In recent nights, I have been having a recurrent dream—more a nightmare, really, I suppose, though it lacks the standard horrific setting and characters. In it, Watson, dear old chap, searches all London for me, yet even when I respond to his calls, even when he is face to face with me, he can neither see nor hear me. It is quite annoying, all in all—and, frankly, not a little disturbing. Skye seems convinced it is my subconscious response to being forcibly yanked into a new continuum and having all contact severed with my former life, friends, and family. There may, I suppose, be something to that.

Nevertheless, it was her idea to keep a journal. I am not normally one for such things, save perhaps in order to record specifics on a given criminal, and when she suggested the idea, I merely smiled, nodded, and went on constructing my second beehive. It is, of course, far too late in the season to do much with it. But the first beehive is already occupied by a healthy swarm of honeybees, and I intend to have this, and one more, ready come spring.

I am quite sure my disinterest was patently evident upon my face; Skye is nothing if not observant. But my dear Skye is also nothing if not determined. And so this morning I found myself presented with a blank journal.

It is a handsome thing; bound in soft brown leather with an illustration from the Book of Kells embossed upon the covers. So she seems to already know of my family's Anglo-Saxon origins. At any rate, it is too bonny a gift to ignore, nor would I wound her by so doing. She believes it will help—and perhaps, a great perhaps, it will. It cannot hurt, I suppose.

So the reticent detective sits here writing upon his drawn-up knees, unaccustomedly bemused, trying to decide what one says in such a journal. I should ask Skye, saving she appears to be already asleep. Her golden hair is spilled across the pillow beside me, and her eyelashes are quivering, denoting her dreams, without doubt. Would that I could read those quivers as I read her expressions, as I read marks in the soil; but I fear they will ever remain a mystery to me. She is a delightful thing, is my Skye. One would never guess she is nearing the thirty-ninth anniversary of her birth.

Which brings up another consideration: It is one week until her birthday, and I have yet to acquire a suitable gift. I find I am again torn, as once more, the detective and the artist do battle over this relationship.

* * *

Holmes looked up as the grandfather clock chimed in the hall. "Eleven o'clock," he breathed. "Now I understand how Watson could lose track of time, when he was setting down one of our cases." He closed the journal and laid it and his fountain pen on the nightstand. He spared one more fully illumined glance at the lovely face lying beside him on the pillow before turning out the lamp.

Then he uncurled his "desk," stretching his long legs under the covers with a sigh as he slid deeper into the bed. Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, late of Victorian England, turned toward Dr. Skye Chadwick, hyperspatial physicist of 21st century America, pressed a soft kiss against her sleeping forehead, and drifted off to sleep.

* * *

Holmes had been covertly collecting dead and scrap wood for the last month, determined to provide a proper bonfire for Skye's birthday. It seemed only appropriate to the English-born detective, as his bosom companion had been born on Guy Fawkes Day, that her birthday should be aptly celebrated. Two days before her birthday, on November third, a heavy snowfall blanketed the Colorado Front Range, and Holmes and Skye awoke to over a foot of snow covering the yard outside their ranch house near Florissant, Colorado, in the mountains to the west of Colorado Springs. The local authorities called later that day to inform Holmes that his request for fireworks on the Fifth was therefore approved. He shot a surreptitious glance at an oblivious Skye, his grey eyes twinkling with mischief and mirth; thanked the sheriff, and hung up.

* * *

Then they went outside to shovel a path to the barn and tend the horses. When all four woolly equines had eaten, they turned the horses loose in the pasture, then stood and watched in amusement as the horses bucked and cavorted like children in the first real snow of the season.

While Skye went back inside and prepared breakfast, Holmes continued wielding the snow shovel until the driveway was passable. Only then did he come inside and eagerly partake of the hot meal Skye had waiting for him.

But as soon as he'd finished eating, Holmes betook himself to the bedroom, where he showered and dressed in clean, warm clothes: hiking boots, flannel-lined jeans, a thermal t-shirt, and a flannel shirt. His cowboy hat went onto his head, and his denim jacket topped all.

This is nothing like my attire would have been in my own day, he thought with a mental sigh, catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Victorian attire was rather more…dapper. But it is comfortable, and warm, and apropos to the time and place, so it will have to do.

As he passed through the den, Skye looked up from the couch, where she read a technical journal. "Whoa. Where are you going?"

"Out," Holmes said, succinct.

"Yeah, but…where?"

"Into town." This answer contained slightly more information than his previous, but that wasn't saying much.

"Sherlock, wait."

"Why?" Holmes paused in the southern hallway.

"You haven't been driving that long," Skye pointed out, fishing her boots from under the coffee table. "You haven't ever tried to drive in snow before. Hang on a second, and I'll drive you wherever you need to go."

Holmes turned toward her in chagrin.

"I shall be fine, Skye," he declared, hiding dismay. "I will not be long."

"Sherlock," she protested, shoving her feet into her boots, "if there's black ice on the road, you could wipe out before you blink. Now hang on, and I'll take you."

Holmes returned to her side, crouching in front of her.


Skye paused, looking up into his hawklike, determined face in stunned confusion.




"No questions, my dear Skye," Holmes said, allowing a twinkle to appear in the grey eyes. "You shall stay here today. I hardly think it necessary to say anything more."

Sapphire eyes blinked back at him, still bewildered and worried. It suddenly occurred to Holmes that Skye was focused upon his safety to the exclusion of all else; her upcoming birthday, and his likely reason for going into town, simply were not in her realm of thought at that moment. One of the most brilliant scientists in the world, he considered, and the only thought in her mind at this moment is keeping you safe, Sherlock. You are indeed fortunate, old chap. Finally he decided another, more direct hint was in order.

"Skye, what is today?"

"November third," she answered, watching him anxiously, trying to understand.

"And what is in two days' time?"

"November fifth," Skye murmured, still befuddled.

Holmes' lips twitched in amusement. My, she is fixated this morning. "And what is so important—to you—about November fifth?"

Comprehension dawned in the blue eyes.

"Oh! My birth— Is THAT why you don't want me coming with you? You're getting something for my birthday?"

"Finally!" Holmes exclaimed in lighthearted gratification. "I was beginning to think that brilliant grey matter of yours would never awaken this morning!"

"Well, I hadn't really bothered to wake it up." Skye ran a hand over her face, grinning sheepishly. "Days when I don't need to get out, I like lazing in front of the fire."

"And it shows, my dear." Holmes laughed in that silent way he had. "Not that there is anything wrong with that; I have been known to do the same, when there is no case pressing. Stay here and relax. I shall not be gone over-long. Would you like for me to bring anything home for tonight? Or is there anything we need from the grocer's?"

"Not particularly. But I still think I ought to drive you. I'd much rather spoil a birthday surprise than have you hurt…or worse."

"I shall be fine, my dearest Skye," Holmes assured her softly, touched by her concern. "Do you recall when I spent some little time with Agent Smith in September, training on modern FBI techniques?"


"That included all-terrain, all-condition driving. I am now quite as good behind the wheel as ever I was in the seat of a hansom. And that is saying somewhat."

"Oh. I didn't know. Okay."

* * *

He turned for the door, and Skye called, "Oh, hey! Will you be back in time for lunch, or not?"

"Mm," Holmes pulled his pocket-watch from the coin pocket of his jeans and checked it. "It is already quite late in the morning. No, my dear, I shall merely obtain a bite in town. But you may expect me for tea."

"Okay," Skye said cheerfully, coming to him and wrapping her arms around him. "Tea it is." She stretched up and kissed him.

The fond gesture took him off guard, and the detective caught her close, returning the kiss. After several moments, he put her aside.

"I had best go," he said in an uneven voice, "before you change my mind on the schedule for the day."

"I'll still be here when you get back." Skye giggled mischievously. "Is there…anything in particular…you want for tea?" The devilish sky-blue eyes glimmered.

"'All that I have to say has already crossed your mind.'" Grey eyes gleamed in response.

"'Then possibly my answer has crossed yours,'" she smiled, continuing their quotation game, started some weeks before.

"'You stand fast?'" Holmes cited Moriarty, but with a playful grin.

"'Absolutely,'" Skye responded, smirking.

"I…eagerly anticipate it," Holmes' grin grew wider as he dropped the game. "Perhaps I shall get home BEFORE tea-time."

And he was gone.



The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident Copyright © 2012. Stephanie Osborn. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.




Author Bio

Stephanie Osborn is a former payload flight controller, a veteran of over twenty years of working in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs. She has worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Of those astronauts she trained, one was Kalpana Chawla, a member of the crew lost in the Columbia disaster.

She holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, and she is "fluent" in several more, including Geology and Anatomy. She obtained her various degrees from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Stephanie is currently retired from space work. She now happily "passes it forward," teaching math and science via numerous media including radio, podcasting, and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science fiction think tank, while writing science fiction mysteries based on her knowledge, experience, and travels.

TTB title: Burnout: the mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281
Extraction Point! with Travis 'Doc' Taylor

Cresperian series
The Y Factor with Darrell Bain. Book 2 Cresperian series
The Cresperian Alliance with Darrell Bain. Book 3 Cresperian series.

Displaced Detective series
The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus
The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival
The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed
The Case of the Cosmological Killer: The Rendlesham Incident
The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings

Author web site.





  Author News

Check out Stephanie's interview in Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine:

Another interview in The Big Thrill

Upcoming Appearances

Keep up with Stephanie on Sector Five Radio, where she is the Science and Technology Consultant "Extraordinaire"! Saturday nights at 7PM CST on KTKK 630AM in Salt Lake City!


Science Fiction Conventions

Upcoming Appearances



A return to the homeland for Holmes! Today’s England meets the famous detective of past times.

What an idea! The storyline continues, in merry old England, this time, with the continued presence of some old acquaintances and the introduction of definitely surprising others! Social status is “caste” aside when, again, preservation of this “continuum” is threatened, among other things.

Evildoers are evildoers regardless of the timeframe. Some things just don’t change! Holmes is, as always, in incredibly good form and those foolish enough to challenge him will definitely fail.

The settings can only be described as “delicious.” Old fashioned outrage combined with space age technology adds to the mixture. Then, “Sir” Sherlock and “Lady” Holmes; huh? My head nearly bursts with all of the unexpected, but, I LOVE IT! What else can one say? READ IT, READ IT, READ IT!

~Bill Markie aka Webley, Nashville Scholars of the Three-Pipe Problem





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