Vivienne glanced at the clock on the wall. It was just past two in the morning and she was alone. The house felt expansive and eerily quiet, and not even the cats came when she called them. She could hear the second hand as it shuffled from dot to dot; time counting the seconds to its end. Her hand trembled slightly - it would have been almost unnoticeable were it not for the ice cubes clinking nervously against the empty glass.
Although she knew she wasn’t really alone, Vivienne felt fundamentally lonely that evening. It wasn’t only from physical solitude, though Holmes was running “errands”, a vague excuse for a disappearance that would last, she knew from experience, more than any errand should; and despite the placating words and the many promises, she had begun to believe less and less that these were important jobs, and more and more that they were excuses to break free of her.
She wasn’t entirely sure she fully trusted Elisah at this point (in any case, the young girl had gone out once again, which didn’t do anything to curb the suspicion) - but knowing there was a secret history hidden, locked away in some deep ravine of her mind, isolated her. It had turned her into a time-bomb, a fire hazard. She was lonely even despite herself, because now there were parts of her past she didn’t know. She felt alone from the future too - she’d known the loss of a daughter, but now came the loss of future children: a bitter pill to swallow and even more sour to digest. Because even if she could have children, which she was sincerely beginning to doubt, the act of bringing a new life into her own broken world was the cruellest crime even she, a reformed killer, could commit. So Vivienne felt isolated and sad and, more than anything, afraid. She had weighed her options carefully:
1. She could leave. Pack it all in, find a quiet moment (like this one), when nobody suspected it, and take off. She would find a quiet hotel room, lodge there until she had made the necessary arrangements to fly off and start afresh for the third time. The problems with this plan were twofold: firstly, she was afraid it would do more damage to her loved ones than anybody pursuing her ever could. (Unless, of course, they were relieved to be rid of her, which was also a possibility); secondly, she was too selfish and craved the little bit of family she had, even if it felt like it was crumbling around her.
2. The second option was more viable, but she rejected it outright for the simple reason that it would prove she was her mother’s daughter - something she had denied for most of her life. But, in solitude, it was a loud demon sitting on her shoulder. Far too loud to dismiss; not loud enough that she couldn’t shut it up.
So she would have to stay and fight - something she’d thought she’d been rid of. Why had she given up her life, why had she put herself through demolition and madness, if she was just going to be a fugitive anyway? Anybody else would have felt angry at being wronged, would have known a great injustice had been done to them without their consent. But Vivienne saw it as just another breeze block. With a life like hers, whether she had warranted it or not, tragedy and injustice were par for the course.
She had enough self-awareness to understand she was a tragic character in a farce and, with a joyless laugh, she reached out for another sip of her hubris. Or one of her many. Still, the second hand shuffled loudly - chrrk; chrrk; chrrk - taunting her. The liquid burnt the back of her throat, a familiar sensation, the gentle reprimand inherent to small pleasures. She stared at the wall, her thoughts clearing, half-singing a song whose words she didn’t quite remember.
“A-down-a-down,” she sang. “Hmm-mm-mm rosemary and mmm-mm-mmm!” Another pouring of liquid gold. “For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy. Hmmm-nonny-mmm.”
The words muddled up. A little spiral galaxy of markings and noises (if one goes crazy, does it happen in every language?) rearranging themselves into nonsense. And if anything surfaced now, how would she know if it was real or a waking dream?
It was starting. She took another sip. [Расположение: Тревизо] Was she supposed to be recording this? A familiar wave of nausea. [Lie on your side]
-- -- --
Somewhere dark. Something… somewhere cold. Wires.
“She has… Aberratio Mentalis Partialis…” An impassive voice. My h…
“Will she remember?” [Yuri??]
“Not without help.”
“We could screw her and she’d have no idea.”
-Silence. Then a slap.-
“Sorry, Agent Mirov. That w-”
-Chrrk; chrrk; chrrk-
My eyes are pried open and a white light is flashed into them. I cannot blink. I cannot look away.
“Please. You are hurting me. Please, the light is too bright!”
The light is turned off.
“She is ready. Dose her.” The impassive voice. All I can taste are peas. Peas for weeks.
“What are you giving her?”
“Cocktail. Meperidine with a side of diazepam. Don’t worry, Yuri, she is quite safe.”
My body feels flushed. My arm hurts.
“She’s fine; it’s just working. Ilya, please start.”
I’m terrified. I’ve been dragged from my bed. I’m here. I’m… please…
“Name: Georg Andermann. Location: Budapest. Status: Active.”
“Is she responding?
“Name: Maria Andres. Location: Ipswich. Status: Deceased.
Name: Gloria Astor. Location: Kerry. Status: Retired.
Name: Filip Augustyn. Location: Warsaw. Status: Detained…”
-- -- --
Vivienne twitches, vomit caking her pillow, crusting around her mouth. She is deeply asleep, but her eyes are wide open and her face is fixed into an expression of horror, which will remain in place until the memory plays out fruitlessly, and not for the first time, which will last the entire night and most of the next morning. Or until she is found and awakened.
Sitting by a table in a room barely lit, Sherlock is disposing a series of vials.
It is three in the morning. Not a sound to be heard in the whole of Montague Street.
"Lexiscan, should the adenosine not work."
An old stereo, a cassette set on pause where he had recorded questions he knew he should find hard to hear and even harder to answer to do the trick.
"Antidote, should the SP-117 serum dose be miscalculated. Which it shouldn't."
His own phone, recording.
"Epinephrine, should the heart stop."
Almost mechanically, he starts filling a series of hypodermics with the contents of each vial, lined up in order, every syringe labelled with its corresponding chemical. A moment of hesitation, which doesn't last long enough to keep him from rolling up his sleeve and tying up his left arm with a rubber band tight enough to make his veins pop.
His hand turns into a fist, to relax and turn into a fist right after.
He's done it a million times, but this time is not like the others. In the past, there would be a rush, or the anticipation of a rush, the promise of a rush. To submit himself to a superior state of mind or no state of mind at all. This time, however, there is no rush. No promise of a rush. He's doing it to redeem himself, to fix what he caused. To find the perfect mix, the perfect elixir.
To defuse a bomb.
In a room barely lit, this time by sunlight, Sherlock is slumped on a chair, two of his vials almost empty. The same casette is playing again. A notebook on the table, the first two pages complete with annotations, his handwriting becoming even more confusing by each line.
His own voice asks from the stereo, tight, as if the tape had been stretched and his voice was tentative, as tentative as the voice which replies.
"State your full name."
The figure on the chair is shaking, his body dripping in sweat, his hand no longer holding the pen.
"William Sherlock Scott Holmes."
"What did you feel when you shot Magnussen?"
The figure on the chair leans forward, trying to reach the antidote. His hand doesn't seem firm enough to hold the syringe steady until it does.
"What did you feel when you shot the man who shot Vivienne Hampton?"
The figure on the chair sobs, stabbing the needle with the antidote in his thigh.
"Please... I can't anymore..."
"What did you feel when you shot Magnussen?"
His mind does not become any clearer. He clutches his chest, in pain.
"Not like this... not before... God, I'm an idiot..."
He tries to reach for the last syringe, but this time his grasp is not hard enough. The figure on the chair leans forward, his whole body limp as he loses consciousness.
"State your full name."
"What did you feel when you shot Magnussen?"
Chapter 3: Finding Holmes
Chapter by VinHampton
Angry at being left alone, Vin sets off in search of Holmes.
When Vivienne wakes up the next morning with a cruel headache, the acrid, sour smell of butyric acid makes her retch once again. Pushing herself off the sofa, she looks around to see the rest of the house in perfect order, and still completely quiet except for the cheerful chirping of birds in the garden. Her first stop is the bathroom, where she washes her face and swollen eyes. Then, she carefully cleans the mess she has made on the floor and sofa, and puts away the bottle of whiskey. She feeds the cats and, while she makes coffee for herself, she goes upstairs to check on Holmes. He is not there.
‘Typical,’ she thinks, sending him a text message. She is irritated, and this disappearing act has been happening far too often lately.
-txt- You said you would be home last night. Where the hell are you? -V
She drinks her coffee, keeping an eye on her phone. Fifteen minutes pass with no reply, so she texts again.
-txt- You selfish bastard. At least let me know you’re safe. -V
She takes a shower, trying to piece together what happened to her last night. There was drink, nausea. She feels confused. She’s dreamt something important, but it’s eluded her. There are glimpses, but trying to latch on to them is impossible, and there is a tepid sensation of sadness weighing her down. Is this what mother felt like?
Drying herself, she notes there is still no word from Holmes. She toys with the idea of letting him go fuck himself and raising hell when he does get home, but she is obliged to care. With wet hair and the cats rubbing against her legs, she plugs in her laptop and starts the process to track his phone. If he had any sense of decency, he will have left it on.
[Maybe he’s out fucking Molly.]
She drums her fingers impatiently against the table as the program calculates co-ordinates and finally, with a promising ‘beep’, points to a spot on the map. Montague Street. She shakes her head and turns her hands into fists. That idiot. He wouldn’t take a girl to Montague Street - Vin had been there, it was an awful, decrepit place. He would, however, take something else there. Which would it be this time? Cocaine? Morphine? A new thrill? Was this where he was disappearing off to lately? She should have checked him for track marks. They would have to go through withdrawal again…
Swearing under her breath, she quickly gets dressed and rushes out of the house and into a taxi. ‘I’m going to fucking kill him,’ she thinks, as she sits impatiently in the back, sending him another message.
-txt- You are such an idiot. Stay where you are. -V
“Can’t you go any faster?” She asks the taxi driver, who tuts at her, starting to turn right. “No, what are you doing? Going through Kensington on a Saturday? Are you an idiot? Cut through Marylebone. I swear to god…” The driver mutters a rude response but does as she says. She is growing increasingly angry. He left her alone, afraid, so he could go shoot up. Because, after all, what the fuck was she to him? He had said it himself. “An experiment.” They’d fought so much after that. Her eyes began to sting. Fucking junkie. “There are things more important than us,” he’d said. Like getting high.
She throws a £20-note at the driver and hurries toward the building housing the bedsits, one of which is his. Of course the front door is locked. She buzzes Flat 5.
“Sorry to bother you. I’m with Holmes in Flat 2. Forgotten my keys. I think he’s asleep.” It takes some persuasion but she is finally let in, and she runs up the stairs, two at a time, until she is at the dirty door to his room. She knocks at it with no reply. “Holmes!”, she shouts, to no avail. She places her ear to the door and frowns as she hears his voice, but different, strained.
“State your full name…” it says.
“What? It’s me, you moron…”
“What did you feel when you shot Magnussen?”
Vin’s face contorts in confusion. “What the fuck?”
“What did you feel when you shot the man who shot Vin Hampton?”
A recording. She pounds on the door again, the anger quickly turning into panic, and a sinking feeling deep in her bowels, and a tingling in her fingers. It takes her four attempts to kick in the door. Sunlight streams into the room and, on the chair, leaning forward, with a needle in his thigh and his skin covered in putrid sweat, is Sherlock.
“No, no, no, no.” She crosses the small room and kneels in front of him, pushing his body back into the chair, a small cry escaping her lips. “No, no, you bastard.” His eyes are open and crossed. “No, no, please. What the fuck?” His voice, distorted, carries on. State your full name. “Sherlock, what have you done?” She takes his cold wrist and presses two fingers on his pulse, which she cannot feel. What did you feel when you shot Magnussen? “Oh God. Oh God, no. No, no.” Is this it? Has he died? A loud sob and she stands up to shake his shoulders. “Wake up. Wake up, you piece of shit. Wake up. W- Noooo. No.”
The world has ended.
Vin stands helplessly, the only person left alive. She is frozen to the spot, screaming. The woman from Flat 5 runs downstairs and into the room. “Oh Jesus,” she mutters, calling for an ambulance.
“He’s dead! He’s dead! He’s dead! He’s dead! Help. He… Help. God. Please. Please.” Vin wails. “What did you take, you bastard? What did you take? I want it. Please. Please, you can’t leave me alone. You can’t do this.” The woman puts her hands on Vin’s shoulders, trying to calm her down. Vin shakes her away as she rummages on the table, looking at the vials. It all becomes crystal clear. Adenosine. SP-117. The notebook. The recording.
“Miss, please, please calm down.”
Suddenly, a rattling noise makes both women stop and look at him. Vin’s eyes widen, just as she comes across the one syringe that’s still full. ‘EPI’, written in Holmes’s scrawl on the white label. She understands. She grabs it and stabs him with it in the thigh, pressing down on the plunger. There is a sharp intake of breath and a pained groan from his lips.
“Yes!” Vin cups his face. “Yes, yes. Wake up. Holmes.” She laughs hysterically, using her sleeve to wipe the sweat from his face. Two men approach the door. Paramedics. One of them pulls Vin away.
“He injected himself with adenosine,” she states, laughing. “He made his heart stop.” The men give her a strange look as she clutches her stomach, laughing so hard she almost can’t breathe. “His heart stopped, so I injected him with epinephrine…”
One of the men places two fingers on Holmes’s neck.
“He’s going into tachycardia…”
“How much epinephrine?”
“I don’t know!”
Holmes is lifted onto a stretcher and carried into the back of an ambulance. Vin is asked to join them, and has an orange blanket spread over her shoulders. “I’m fine! I’m fine!” she insists. She watches as Holmes is fitted with wires… wires she doesn’t understand. She is still laughing, but now tears are falling too.
-- -- --
She sits outside Holmes’s room. From where she is, she can hear a heart monitor, a ventilator. His doctor is speaking to her.
“Mrs Holmes, your husband put himself through cardiac arrest. He was fortunate to have been found in time. The epinephrine saved his life, but we are keeping him in an induced coma while he is on dialysis. We are filtering his blood. Tests showed he injected himself with far more than just adenosine.”
Vin nods, blankly. “I understand.”
“Is your husband… has he ever shown signs of depression? Mention of suicide? Everybody knows he is not new to the…”
“No. Sherlock is not suicidal. Arrogant. Megalomaniac. Not suicidal. This is not a cry for help; this is an experiment that went wrong.”
“Even so, we would like to keep him under surveillance for a few days.”
“By all means. I will inform his brother.”
“Will you be staying?”
Vin hesitates. “Um. Yes. I’ll… yes, just make sure he is alright.”