Somewhere, there's a gunshot, and two out of three bodies break the water surface in a mass of entangled limbs. The deafening explosion that follows entirely drowns out the sound of the splashing.
The story of how many, if any, of those three bodies walk away from that pool isn’t this story. And when we say three bodies, we mean four or five. Or more than five. Or four bodies and a lot of laser pointers. Anyway, that story isn't this story. This story involves a far bigger mass of water and, while there are far fewer guns (and possibly laser pointers), there are far more knives.
In a universe not-too-distant from the one where the rather inconvenient need for oxygen is making the fingers of one body go slack against the other's sodden clothes, there are lobsters.
Lots and lots of lobsters, everywhere.
Presently there are three lobsters. Or four or five, or more. Or four and— you get our point. For the sake of expediency we'll say that there are three. The important bit is that two of them have knives. (Actually, another important bit is that there's a piece of coral that has the security layout to King Triton's palace inscribed on it, but one of those lobsters just chucked that into an anemone and rendered it plot-irrelevant. That's all right though, it was fairly plot-irrelevant to begin with.)
The really important bit is that the very same lobster, known as Lobsteriarty, is threatening John at knifepoint. Sherlobster isn't too happy about this particular development. It had been so much fun at first; the puzzles, the little games, Go Fish. Now that John has stupidly thrown himself into harm's way so that Sherlobster might escape a terrible knifey fate, however, matters are more aptly described as nerve-wracking rather than fun.
Lobsteriarty, all twitching spindly legs and mocking voice, is going on and on about how unfit a boring lobster like John is for a lobster like him. ("He doesn't even have a lobster name, just like a proper pet. Like a dogfish, a little nursehound. Isn't that right, John?")
And he’s got it all wrong, because the H stands for Homard, and 'dogfish' isn't just a common slang term for the Scyliorhinus stellaris, the fairly harmless nursehound, but also for the Ginglymostoma cirratum, the nurse shark. Every self-respecting lobster knows that nurse sharks particularly favour crustaceans and could have Lobsteriarty for breakfast. John isn't harmless at all, and anyway, he isn't Sherlobster's pet.
"We could rule the seven seas," Lobsteriarty says. "We could be mightier than Triton and Poseidon combined."
"Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?" Lobsteriarty says.
Sherlobster's claw tightens marginally around John's old service knife. There are several things he would like to do, the majority of which involve a great quantity of clarified butter near its boiling point and a long, thin fork. He keeps his face carefully blank while his mind races for a way out of this veritable Gulf-of-Mexican standoff.
Here's the situation. He's got Lobsteriarty at knifepoint. Lobsteriarty has John at knifepoint. The way he’s holding the knife in all his arrogant confidence is absentminded at best, making it larvae's play for John to disarm him. John had in fact proven this hypothesis by disarming him two minutes ago, but then Lobsteriarty had pleasantly informed them of the eel tamer keeping an eye on Sherlobster. (Apparently the eels are very well trained, very attached to Lobsteriarty, and very hungry. It isn't a bluff. Several of the cases Sherlobster has solved around Lobsteriarty have indicated that he works with an accomplice. For a while now, Sherlobster has suspected that this accomplice is none other than a certain assassin who goes only by the name Muraena—a name owed to his admittedly impressive command over eels. If any readers are confused about this Muraena fellow because of our only introducing three characters at the beginning of the story, we would like to remind them that we only mentioned the number of lobsters. Muraena, or Sebastian, if you will, is a crab.)
The look of misery on John's face as he'd let go of the knife and scuttled backwards is perhaps the worst thing about the situation. Sherlobster never wants to see that expression again. And that— he knows that's bad. He cares about John, cold blue blood be damned, cares so much already that it's too late to go back to the not-caring. It's bad because Lobsteriarty is quite gleefully pointing out that he does have a heart, one which he will inevitably tear out with his bare claws. Sherlobster despises that he couldn't feel more vulnerable if he were in the middle of moulting.
"Poor unfortunate soul," Lobsteriarty says.
The last details of an escape plan and its seven different possible outcomes are finalising in Sherlobster's mind. He tries to communicate this plan to John with nothing but his beady little eyes and some intricate twitches of his antennae. John glances at the anemone that's swaying gently in the current. His own antennae bob in agreement.
Then a giant cod sweeps down and eats Lobsteriarty, designer Westsea shell and all.
The knife is left sinking down, down, down, and chases up a little cloud of dirt upon hitting bottom.
We would mention that Sebastian holds his breath, watches in shock, forgets for just a second about the eels swarming all around him. Sebastian has seen a lot of things in his lifetime. He's travelled the world; has seen horrors in the Arabian Sea during the war and hunted different horrors in the Bay of Bengal for sport, has narrowly avoided death in the Labrador Sea. Once while roaming the coast of Denmark, he was captured by a French chef of questionable sanity with an even more dubious moustache. To this day, Sebastian refuses to talk of the things that happened in that kitchen. He'll seldom be heard mentioning it under any other name than the Kitchen, and you should probably prepare for Horrible Death by Eel if he ever hears you call it Post Traumatic Chef Disorder. The point is, in that moment, Sebastian Muraena knows that the sight of Lobsteriarty being swallowed whole will stay with him for the rest of his life (possibly he'll only refer to this particular trauma as the Cod) and he swears to every sea god he holds dear that he'll chase Sherlobster up and down the Mid-Atlantic Ridge if need be, to avenge the murder of his bosom friend.
But we won't be telling you about all that, because this is starting to read a bit like a fairy tale, and no one cares about the baddies' feelings in fairy tales, do they?
Anyway, in the end, Sebastian turns out to be quite right about the terrible image staying burned on his retinas forever. Fifteen seconds later the cod scoffs him down and shoots the eels a calculated look.
The eels look at the cod.
They look at each other.
They look back at the cod.
The eels promptly turn tail and swim for their lives.
The cod calmly drifts onwards and leaves the scene in a stunned silence.
"Mycod," sighs Sherlobster suddenly, sullenly. "Really, how does he expect any of those diets to work when he insists on devouring all my nemeses whole? He never does let me have any fun." The words have no sooner passed his maxilla or he looks stricken. "John! Are you all right?"
He scrabbles over to John, antennae frantically roving over him to check for injuries and, if he were being perfectly honest, just to touch and reassure himself John is still there. "Are you all right?" he asks again.
"I'm fine. It's— fine," John babbles. Sherlobster can see his left claw and second right pereiopod are trembling, the latter threatening to give out under his weight. There's a pause. "I'm glad no one saw that."
"You, feeling me up right in the middle of the bloody North Sea. The Merfolk might talk." John huffs out a bubble of laughter.
"The Merfolk do little else." Sherlobster smiles faintly, or, well, does something that approximates the human idea of a smile as much as a sociopathic lobster can. "Speaking of Merfolk. Lobstrade has informed me that one the King's daughters has gone missing. Kidnapped, they say. They're doubtlessly missing the finer points of the case."
They swim onwards in the vague direction of the crime scene while Sherlobster expounds on the various mistakes Scotland Loch has almost certainly made so far. If John reaches out an antenna and Sherlobster tentatively returns the touch with one of his own, then the Merfolk can just bugger off with their gossip.
Later, when they've solved the Case of the Little Mermaid and Sherlobster is vehemently denying his exhaustion, John insists they take a holiday to the Hudson Bay. They end up in Florida before the week is through, where they help out a kind English lady who’s run into a spot of bother with her husband. As a token of her gratitude for ensuring her husband's execution, she knits Sherlobster a little scarf and makes John a cable-knit jumper that is so small and so precise that it could go in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Their holiday (honeymoon, some would argue) eventually draws to a close and they return to the North Sea. A great many cases and long years together later, they retire to the English coast where Sherlobster keeps plankton and John tells the tales of their adventures to their loyal band of fans, and they live lobstery ever after.