Chapter 1: Prologue
It was the witching hour. Amelia always said that it was the best time for asking for help because something would be listening.
Sherlock didn’t believe in that.
And he especially didn’t believe Mycroft who claimed that the East Wind would pluck him off the Earth if he was up at this hour. But Mycroft wasn’t awake to tell him off- the chainsaw snoring was enough to tell him that- and Sherlock was sat, cross legged on his bed, stroking the ears of Redbeard curled up on the duvet next to him, with his bedside light on and a book about Blackbeard open on his lap.
Mycroft said he was stupid for wanting to be a pirate, Amelia didn’t. Sherlock knew that he liked Amelia much more than he liked Mycroft even though she was, as Mycroft constantly put it, boring and normal.
It was true; Amelia wasn’t a genius like the Holmes brothers- though Mycroft and Sherlock always refused to admit the other as anything other than mildly intelligent- but she wasn’t boring. Though many of her stories were complete nonsense, as Sherlock had pointed out (until the day when she had bit him), she had a sort of fiery passion about her that Sherlock had come to respect. Somehow- despite the biting incident and the fact Sherlock was three years ahead of Amelia- the two of them had formed an unlikely sort of camaraderie bonding over mutual dislike of Mycroft, love of History and a hatred for Physical Education (Amelia claimed it exhaustingly boring, Sherlock stated it was a total waste of time).
Thinking of Amelia, she had told him she was going to ask Santa for help that night.
“But it’s Easter,” Sherlock had pointed out in the playground when she told him.
“So he won’t exactly be busy,” Amelia had replied with a shrug and then gone on to talk about why she was asking for mystic help in the first place.
It was the crack in her bedroom wall.
She had shown him when it first appeared. Sherlock had stated that she should simply just ask her aunt to use some quick-sealant on it. Then Amelia claimed that she could hear a strange voice telling her a prisoner had escaped and was coming through the crack in her wall.
Sherlock had never heard it any of the times he had been round her house. Neither had Rory or Mels and Mels had slept over more than three times.
But regardless, Sherlock was inclined to believe her. Amelia wasn’t scared of anything- not even being home alone when her aunt left her without a babysitter at night despite the risk of a break in being 8% (even in sleepy Leadworth)- but she was scared of that crack in her bedroom wall...
Sherlock frowned as he heard a sound like distant thunder. It wasn’t supposed to storm. The weatherman wasn’t 100% reliable but it definitely shouldn’t rain tonight. He looked out the window and could see Amelia’s back garden opposite when something bright and glowing caught his eye in the sky. It hurtled down and smashed right through Amelia’s back garden shed- smoking and behind too many hedges for Sherlock to get a proper look at- with a crash Sherlock was sure would have been loud enough to wake his family. Book forgotten and Redbeard now sat up alert, but thankfully quiet, on his bedspread, Sherlock scrambled to his knees and pressed his face to the glass.
Mycroft let out another loud snore from his bedroom down the hall and there were no sounds from his parents’ bedroom. Fortune mercifully favoured the curious as Sherlock grabbed his dressing gown off the door hook and pulled on the Wellington boots stacked by the door.
He opened the door quietly and snuck across the street clutching his torch in one hand and peering round the gate at the bottom of Amelia’s garden. The youngest Holmes blinked in surprise at what he saw.
A police box lying on its fire. A 1960’s police box too. And it was smoking yellow smoke.
Sherlock frowned and then skunk back a bit when he spotted Amelia in her nightdress, red cardigan and wellies hurrying with her own torch towards the box.
After contemplating for a moment whether he should join her, he decided against it once the doors to the police box threw themselves open with a bang (sending out another cloud of yellow smoke) and a grappling hook shot out to catch round the edge.
Sherlock stared and listened with disbelief as the sound of huffing- the resonance of which was too great for the dimensions of the box- increased from inside and a dark haired, sopping wet head poked out facing away from him and towards Amelia.
Amelia simply stared at the person inside the box pointing her torch at him before the man finally spoke.
“Could I have an apple?”
Amelia didn’t reply. She didn’t look scared she just looked confused more than anything and Sherlock could agree with that.
“It’s all I can think about,” the man explained pulling himself up onto the ledge, “apples. I love apples.” He paused briefly. “Maybe I’m having a craving? That’s new. Never had cravings before.”
Before Sherlock could properly process what was happening the man swung round and Sherlock caught a proper look at him; he was wearing a soaking and torn blue shirt, pinstriped dress pants, tattered converses and a brown and blue tie that was hanging lopsidedly from his open collar. Bedraggled was a word that came to mind.
Bonkers was the next as the man let out a loud whoop.
“Woah!” He chortled looking down into the box before turning back to Amelia, “look at that!”
”Are you okay?” Amelia asked tentatively.
”Just had a fall.” He shrugged and pushed his damp fringe put of his face. “All the way down there right to the library.” He blew out a breath. “Hell of a climb back up!”
Sherlock blinked. There was a library in that phone box?!
“You’re soaking wet!” Amelia protested.
“I was in the swimming pool.” (And a swimming pool?!)
“You said you were in the library!”
“So was the swimming pool.”
Sherlock let out a small snort of amusement as he watched the bizarre, bedraggled excuse for an adult swing his other leg over the edge of the police box and look back at Amelia.
”Are you a policeman?” she asked after a moment.
”Why? Did you call a policeman?”
“Did you come about the crack in my wall?”
Sherlock blinked and looked at the box that had fallen out of the sky. Had Amelia actually been right about the witching hour?
“What crack- Argh!”
With a jolt, the man fell to the ground in front of the police box and a wisp of gold ... something escaped his lips disappearing into the night air. Sherlock’s mouth was well and truly open- yes he was gawping like his mother told him not to with a reprimanding tap to his chin- by this point, Amelia still seemed remarkably unfazed.
“Who are you?”
”I don’t know yet,” the man admitted, “I’m still cooking.”
Cooking?! Now Sherlock was really confused. He was debating making his presence known to the pair.
“Does it scare you?” the man asked and Amelia frowned.
“No, it just looks a bit weird.”
“No, the crack in your wall.”
Amelia’s silence was an answer in itself before she actually spoke.
“Well then, no time to lose!” The man jumped to his feet, grinning widely, “I’m the Doctor, do everything I tell you, don’t ask stupid questions and don’t wander off!”
And with that, he spun round on his foot, walked a few paces and smacked right into a tree not two feet from where Sherlock was crouched hiding.
“Are you alright?” Amy asked with a frown as she squinted at him, peering down.
“Early days,” the man muttered, “steering’s a bit off.”
There was a pause before Amelia asked if he wanted to come in. As the pair went into the house, Sherlock moved closer but nothing happened for several minutes. He was actually about to leave when suddenly the door to the house was thrown open and the supposed Doctor tossed a plate like a frisbee, smacking a stray cat, and pointed after it angrily.
“And stay out!”
The door slammed again and Sherlock peered at the broken plate and the remnants of what was on it. Bread and Butter.
He blinked confusedly but hurriedly snuck back across the garden towards his house and back inside. Sherlock pressed his face against his window again and was rewarded much later by a strange flash of light from Amelia’s bedroom window and then- barely a minute later- the Doctor rushing across the lawn with Amelia in tow back towards his police box.
He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but the Doctor dropped back into the police box and a delighted Amelia grinned. Sherlock stared with wide eyes as the box faded out of existence and Amelia ran back inside her house.
Sherlock flopped back against his bed stunned. He would never forget this moment, even after all logic had ruled what he had seen as impossible and he left Leadworth and Amelia Pond behind.
Chapter 2: The Hellhounds of the Baskervilles
Sherlock and John investigate the case of Henry Knight with a Supernatural twist.
Yes I’m changing some of the years to fit the story.
15 Years Later
Mycroft Holmes had been considered the more successful of the Holmes brothers by many. He moved in the circles of the notable and elite- for the right reasons- was a dignified and highly reputed member of the British Government, and had a steady influence over various organisations, both national and abroad, with the CIA, British Secret Service, and British Men of Letters being just a few of those that he had in his proverbial pocket.
The younger Holmes was described by the elder as something of a loose canon. It was rue that he rivalled his brother in intelligence, but as children he had been open to Mycroft’s japes particularly in the case of the ‘Mysterious Police Box’- an occurrence he claimed to have seen. Of course, the Pond girl hadn’t helped with Sherlock’s over enthusiastic imagination, Mycroft had thought, but their parents had been content to let the ‘small’ delusion run through their youngest son’s mind for almost six months before they became concerned for his actual psychological well being. The move out of Leadworth had quietened the subject (though Sherlock had still insisted when asked that the event had transpired) and it was never really brought up again.
So it was of mild irritation to the elder Holmes brother, when he discovered that his brother had not been lying.
After being granted access to the archives of the Torchwood Institution Est. 1879 by HRH Queen Victoria, Mycroft was somewhat loathe to discover that the blue police box was not only recognised, but also housed a deemed enemy to the British Empire. Of course if he were to ask the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, good people whom he did not have under his control, they would say it housed a valuable ally.
Then of course Torchwood had Fallen and gone freelance- a mild inconvenience to say the least- yet U.N.I.T still steadfastly refused to work alongside any other organisation; a pity since the combined efforts of Torchwood and the British Men of Letters had kept the British public successfully in the dark about much of the supernatural and extraterrestrial threats that constantly bombarded the planet. (The few public incidences were quickly covered up).
And until a file was dropped on Mycroft’s desk that morning, the British Men of Letters had had an absolutely spotless record of never leaving trace of the world of monsters.
The file in question was actually one pulled from the archive:
1992: Civilian Casualty
Name (Vic.): James Henry Knight.
Offic. Cause: A.A.
Ac. Cause: Subject H-312.
Loc: Baskerville B.M.O.L. Military Base, Dartmoor. [Incident occurred 8:30pm GMT in ‘Dewer’s Hollow’ on Moors]
(1) Henry Knight, 7. Con: Trauma, Unreliable.
Action: Psychological Treatment should remove the idea from his mind.
Signed Dr. E. Hess.
Unfortunately, the location had instantly raised red flags in Mycroft’s mind and he reached for the telephone.
Three Days Ago.
John Watson had been living as Sherlock Holmes flatmate in Baker Street for almost three years now and perhaps a person might have thought they would have been used to one another after such a time- particularly since the two actually worked together as well.
This was not the case.
Having received a text from his flatmate around half an hour ago claiming to have solved their latest case and now catching a train as for some reason he was struggling to find a taxi, the last thing he expected was the actual appearance of his friend. The first clue he got to Sherlock’s return was the thunk as something wooden dropped against the floor.
Half glancing, he did a double take and trailed his eyes up, mouth slackening as he stared disbelievingly at Sherlock. He was completely splattered with blood. Blood covering his arms, saturating his shirt, staining his face and splattering his trousers and drying in his dark, curly hair- in his right hand he held an equally blood splattered harpoon.
There was a moment of stunned silence as Sherlock blew out an irritated breath before speaking.
”Well that was tedious,” he spat.
”You went on the tube like that?!”
”None of the cabs would take me.”
The fact that he sounded genuinely perplexed by this fact as he stood there in his blood soaked glory served to make the situation that much more ridiculous before he strode off- still dripping blood along the floorboards- towards the bathroom for a presumable shower leaving John to have another of his brief, and not seriously meant, “why couldn’t I get a normal human being for a flatmate?” trains of thought.
An hour or so later and Sherlock’s compounding urge to solve a case returned leaving John to flick through newspapers whilst Sherlock paced the living room in a new shirt and trousers underneath his blue dressing gown and carrying the harpoon like he was stalking prey in the African Savannah.
“Nothing?” He snapped impatiently.
“Military coup in Uganda,” John offered already knowing what the answer would be.
John flicked the page and grinned at the photograph. Ever since they had left the theatre in those hats to look incognito the picture had appeared everywhere.
“Another photo of you with the, er ...” he called and Sherlock made a disgusted noise in the back of his throat as he peered at the grainy image of himself in the deerstalker hat. John grabbed the next paper and raised his eyebrows with interest.
“Oh, um, Cabinet reshuffle.”
“Nothing of importance?” Sherlock asked furiously and then with a bang that made John jump, he slammed the end of the harpoon against the floor and let out a roar of rage. “Oh, God!” He snapped his eyes round and fixed John with an intense glare. “John, I need some. Get me some.”
“No,” John replied firmly, but calmly.
Sherlock‘s glare strengthened.
“Get me some.”
“No!” He pointed sternly at his tall flatmate when the detective opened hi she mouth to protest. “Cold turkey, we agreed, no matter what.”
Sherlock’s face grimaced and he leant the harpoon against the dining room table, stomping and sulking like a pouty child.
“Anyway,” John said louder, “you’ve paid everyone off, remember? No-one within a two mile radius’ll sell you any.”
“Stupid idea,” Sherlock muttered, “whose idea was that?”
John gave him a look and cleared his throat pointedly. The detective paused before facing the door and shouting louder than was really necessary.
The former army doctor sighed as Sherlock began throwing papers aside, desperately searching for what he didn’t need but clearly wanted.
“Look, Sherlock,” he tried to speak rationally, “you’re doing really well. Don’t give up now.”
“Tell me where they are.” Sherlock’s voice was frantic as he tossed papers around. “Please. Tell me.” As John continued silence, the consultant straightened up and gave his most appealing puppy-dog eyes. He seemed to hesitate around a word before finally managing to speak it. hesitating before he speaks and almost forming the word a couple of times before actually speaking it. “Please.”
“Can’t help, sorry.” He continued reading the paper.
“I’ll let you know next week’s lottery numbers!”
John chuckled. Sherlock might have been a genius but there was no way he knew that.
“Oh, it was worth a try.”
There was a pause as he looked around before inspired seized him and he all but hurled himself to the floor in front of the fireplace. He unearthed a slipper from the pile of papers in front of the unlit fire and began scrabbling about inside as Mrs Hudson finally arrived and stood in the doorway.
“Ooh-ooh!” she squeaked in protest as she caught a glimpse of her tenant’s ransacking.
“My secret supply,” Sherlock cried before she could say anything else, his voice tight and almost sing-song in nature, “what have you done with my secret supply?”
The ladnlady blinked in confusion.
“Cigarettes!” Sherlock snapped out as clarification, “what have you done with them? Where are they?”
“You know you never let me touch your things!” Mrs Hudson protested and tutted as she took in the extent of the mess, “ooh, chance would be a fine thing.”
Sherlock jumped to his feet and glared at her with icy blue eyes.
“I thought you weren’t my housekeeper,” he bit out and Mrs Hudson glared back at him completely unintimidated.
There was a noise of frustration from the detective before he stomped back over to the harpoon and picked it up again, tossing it between hands clearly on edge. John gave a light cough and mimed drinking something to Mrs Hudson who caught on.
”How about a nice cuppa,” she offered, “and perhaps you could put away your harpoon.”
“I need something stronger than tea,” Sherlock huffed, “seven per cent stronger.“ he glared out of the window for a moment as if blaming the rest of the world for his withdraw. And then swung round pointing the harpoon at Mrs Hudson who rightfully flinched.
“You’ve been to see Mr Chatterjee again,” he announced and John sighed.
Here we go...
“Pardon?” Mrs Hudson blinked and Sherlock pointed with the tip of the weapon in his hands.
“Sandwich shop. That’s a new dress, but there’s flour on the sleeve. You wouldn’t dress like that for baking-“
“Sherlock ...” John began earning,y but as ever, his friend completely ignored him.
“Thumbnail: tiny traces of foil. Been at the scratch cards again. We all know where that leads, don’t we?” He sniffed deeply and pointedly, slamming the hilt of the harpoon against the ground as he did so. “Mmm: ‘Kasbah Nights.’ Pretty racy for first thing on a Monday morning, wouldn’t you agree?” He gave John a look. “I’ve written a little blog on the identification of perfumes. It’s on the website – you should look it up.”
“Please.” the landlady sounded exasperated.
“I wouldn’t pin your hopes on that cruise with Mr Chatterjee. He’s got a wife in Doncaster-“ he adopted a south Yorkshire accent to say the town’s name. “-that nobody knows about.”
“Sherlock!” John snapped as Mrs Hudson’s face creased up.
“Well, nobody except me!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Mrs Hudson cried, visibly upset as she made for the door, “I really don’t.”
She slammed it with a bang as she exited and Sherlock vaulted over the back of his armchair and sat legs drawn to his chest, perched, arms round his knees and lip jutting out like a petulant child. John slammed his newspaper down to glare at him.
This was getting bloody tiring!
“What the bloody hell was all that about?” He demanded as Sherlock rocked back and forth where he sat.
“You don’t understand.”
“Go after her and apologise.”
God, sometimes John felt like a reprimanding parent in this friendship they had. Sherlock stared at him as if he were speaking another language.
The detective sighed shaking his head sadly.
”Oh, John, I envy you so much.”
John paused, wondering whether to rise to the bait, but eventually conceding as he rested his head on his arm to give his friend a disbelieving look.
“You envy me?” He repeated and Sherlock nodded.
“Your mind: it’s so placid, straightforward, barely used.” Thanks, John thought sarcastically. “Mine’s like an engine, racing out of control; a rocket tearing itself to pieces trapped on the launch pad.” He slammed his palms against the arms of his chair and shouted, “I need a case!”
”You’ve just solved one!” John shouted throwing his hands up in his expaseration and gestured to the harpoon now leaning against the mantle, “by harpooning a dead pig, apparently!”
His friend made an exasperated noise and jumped to land in his seat in the customary sitting position.
“That was this morning!” he huffed drumming his fingers and feet on the chair and floor, “When’s the next one?”
“Nothing on the website?” John asked timidly.
Sherlock scowled and collected his laptop tossing it into his friend’s hands and began narrating the message as he stomped to the window.
“‘Dear Mr Sherlock Holmes. I can’t find Bluebell anywhere. Please please please can you help?”’
“A rabbit, John!”
“Ah, but there’s more!” Sherlock cried, voice practically dripping sarcasm, “before Bluebell disappeared, it turned luminous ...” his voice went high and squeaky, “ “like a fairy”” then back to normal, “according to little Kirsty; then the next morning, Bluebell was gone! Hutch still locked, no sign of a forced entry ...”. He stopped suddenly, mocking expression switching to intensity. “Ah! What am I saying? This is brilliant!” He pointed at John firmly and deadly serious, “phone Lestrade. Tell him there’s an escaped rabbit.”
John just stared at him.
“Are you serious?”
“It’s this,” Sherlock sighed, “or Cluedo.”
“Ah, no!” John decided instantly before frowning at the laptop screen, “we are never playing that again!”
“Because it’s not actually possible for the victim to have done it, Sherlock, that’s why.”
“Well, it was the only possible solution,” Sherlock huffed.
“It’s not in the rules!”
“Then the rules are wrong!”
John gave up arguing and called over to him.
”What’s the other message, um, from an ‘A. Pond’?” He asked and Sherlock swiped the laptop off his lap, bristling.
He was cut off by the sound of the doorbell ringing downstairs and John held up a finger thoughtfully as Sherlock glanced at the door.
“Single ring,” John stated.
“Maximum pressure just under the half second,” Sherlock agreed and the two looked at each other before speaking simultaneously.
Barely a minute in to the documentary that Henry Knight had brought with him and Sherlock was quite clearly bored. He’d switched his dressing gown for his suit jacket and actually bothered to put some shoes on- a surprisingly rarer occurrence for a supposed professional- and was hardly giving the television screen more than the odd cursory glance.
“Dartmoor,” the female presenter said as the camera panned over shots of the moors, “it’s always been a place of myth and legend, but is there something else lurking out here – something very real? Because Dartmoor’s also home to one of the government’s most secret of operations ...” By this point Sherlock had given up on the documentary and instead decided to just observe their potential client, who was chewing his lip anxiously, as the camera changed to images of a fortified building, “... the chemical and biological weapons research centre which is said to be even more sensitive than Porton Down. Since the end of the Second World War, there’ve been persistent stories about the Baskerville experiments: genetic mutations, animals grown for the battlefield. There are many who believe that within this compound, in the heart of this ancient wilderness, there are horrors beyond imagining. But the real question is: are all of them still inside?”
The documentary cut to Henry himself sitting indoors eyes as haunted as they were now as he spoke.
“I was just a kid. It-it was on the moor...” There was a cutaway to a child’s drawing of a huge snarling black dog with smoke behind it and red eyes. “It was dark, but I know what I saw. I know what killed my father.”
With an exasperated sigh, Sherlock picked up the remote control and switched off the footage.
“What did you see?”
“Oh.” Henry blinked and raised a finger to tentatively point at the television screen. “I ... I was just about to say-“
“Yes, in a TV interview. I prefer to do my own editing.”
“Yes.” Henry nodded slowly. “Sorry, yes, of course. ’Scuse me.”
He pulled a paper napkin from his pocket to wipe his nose.
“In your own time,” John assured from where he had moved to sit in the dining room chair by Sherlock’s own.
“But quite quickly,” Sherlock added.
Henry lowered the napkin before speaking.
“Do you know Dartmoor, Mr Holmes?”
“It’s an amazing place.” The detective rolled his eyes so obviously John actually considered kicking him in an effort to get him to demonstrate a little tact. “It’s like nowhere else. It’s sort of ... bleak but beautiful.”
“Mmm, not interested,” Sherlock said impatiently, “moving on.”
“We used to go for walks, after my mum died, my dad and me. Every evening we’d go out onto the moor...”
“Yes, good,” came the interruption, “skipping to the night that your dad was violently killed. Where did that happen?”
John lifted his eyes skyward at his friend’s insensitivity. Would it actually kill Sherlock to show some tact for once?
“There’s a place – it’s... it’s a sort of local landmark, haunting and such,” Henry explained slowly, “called Dewer’s Hollow.” He looked up at Sherlock who merely inclined his head as of to say: “And...?”
“That’s an ancient name for the Devil.”
An eyebrow quirked.
“So?” Sherlock asked after a pause.
“Did you see the Devil that night?” John prompted.
Henry’s face took on a haunted quality and he gave a small nod.
“Yes... It was huge. Coal-black fur, with red eyes... it got him, tore at him, tore him apart...” Sherlock leaned forward, expression intense but Henry shook his head slightly. “I can’t remember anything else. They found me the next morning, just ... wandering on the moor. My dad’s body was found.”
“Hmm,” John said as Sherlock leaned back into his seat, “red eyes, coal-black fur, enormous: dog? Wolf?”
“Or a genetic experiment,” Sherlock muttered biting away a smile.
“Are you laughing at me, Mr Holmes?” Henry demanded narrowing his eyes.
“Why, are you joking?”
“My parents were always going on about the things they were doing at Baskerville, my father especially after my mother died; about the type of monsters they were breeding there,” Henry told them indignantly, “people used to laugh at him. At least the TV people took me seriously.”
“And, I assume, did wonders for Devon tourism,” Sherlock replied dryly causing John to shift in his seat uncomfortably.
“Yeah ...” in a clear effort to halt Sherlock’s incessant sarcasm- that was clearly having a very negative impact on the client across from them- John leaned forward. Sherlock gave a derogatory scoff and eye roll when he caught on but said nothing. “Henry, whatever did happen to your father, it was eighteen years ago. Why come to us now?”
The man didn’t answer instead fixing the detective with a hard glare.
“I’m not sure you can help me, Mr Holmes, since you find it all so funny.”
And with that, he stood up and stalked towards the door shoulders bunched up and tight with anger.
“Because of what happened last night,” Sherlock answered John who blinked in response as Henry stopped dead in the doorway.
“Why, what happened last night?”
Henry looked back at them open mouthed.
“How ...” he stuttered, anger fading to disbelief, “how do you know?”
“I didn’t know; I noticed.”
Oh dear lord, here we go, John thought as Sherlock began his quick fire analysis.
“You came up from Devon on the first available train this morning. You had a disappointing breakfast and a cup of black coffee. The girl in the seat across the aisle fancied you. Although you were initially keen, you’ve now changed your mind. You are, however, extremely anxious to have your first cigarette of the day. Sit down, Mr Knight, and do please smoke. I’d be delighted.”
Henry stared in open mouthed astonishment before slowly sitting down as Sherlock leaned back in his seat with a sigh. The client fished in his pocket for the paper napkin.
“How on earth did you notice all that?!” he managed to say finally.
“It’s not important ...” John muttered but Sherlock was already off and speaking at the speed of out of co from freight train.
“Punched-out holes where your ticket’s been checked ...” he pointed to two small paper circles stuck to Henry’s coat.
“Not now, Sherlock-“
“Oh please,” Sherlock whined, “I’ve been cooped up in here for ages.”
“You’re just showing off!”
“Of course,” the detective huffed, “I am a show-off. That’s what we do.” He returned his attention back to Henry who was looking between them as if he were watching a fast paced tennis match and clutching the paper napkin in his hand. “The train napkin that you used to mop up the spilled coffee: the strength of the stain shows that you didn’t take milk. There are traces of ketchup on it and round your lips and on your sleeve. Cooked breakfast – or the nearest thing those trains can manage. Probably a sandwich.”
Henry let out a choked noise.
“How did you know it was disappointing?” he stuttered and Sherlock gave a weary sigh.
“Is there any other type of breakfast on a train?”
Henry paused and then pulled a face in agreement.
“The girl – female handwriting’s quite distinctive. Wrote her phone number down on the napkin. I can tell from the angle she wrote at that she was sat across from you on the other side of the aisle. Later – after she got off, I imagine – you used the napkin to mop up your spilled coffee, accidentally smudging the numbers. You’ve been over the last four digits yourself with another pen, so you wanted to keep the number. Just now, though, you used the napkin to blow your nose. Maybe you’re not that into her after all. Then there’s the nicotine stains on your fingers ... your shaking fingers. I know the signs.” His gaze became more intense. “No chance to smoke one on the train; no time to roll one before you got a cab here.” He checked his watch. “It’s just after nine fifteen. You’re desperate. The first train from Exeter to London leaves at five forty-six a.m. You got the first one possible, so something important must have happened last night. Am I wrong?”
Henry stared at him in amazement for several silent seconds before drawing in a shaky breath.
“No.” Sherlock leaned back I. His seat smugly and John sighed in exasperation taking a drink of tea. “You’re right. You’re completely, exactly right. Bloody hell, I heard you were quick-“
“It’s my job.” Sherlock leaned forward in his seat and practically snarled the next words. “Now shut up and smoke.”
John frowned uncomprehendingly as Henry tentatively did as he was told and lit a roll up. The doctor consulted over his notes before speaking.
“Um, Henry, your parents both died and you were, what, seven years old?”
Henry exhaled his cigarette before speaking.
“I know. That ... my ...” he trailed off eyes wary as Sherlock leaned into the smoke drifting from the cigarette and Henry himself before taking in a deep, noisy lungful of smoke and sighed happily as he sat down again.
John did his best to ignore his friend whom Henry was eyeing with new apprehension.
“That must be a ... quite a trauma,” John continued, “have you ever thought that maybe you invented this story, this ...” he cut off as Sherlock dived forward and noisily inhaled the next lot of smoke. “... to account for it?”
Henry dragged his eyes away from Sherlock.
“That’s what Doctor Mortimer says.”
“His therapist,” Sherlock answered.
“My therapist,” Henry replied half a second later and blinked at the detective who merely shrugged.
“Louise Mortimer,” the client explained, “she’s the reason I came back to Dartmoor. She thinks I have to face my demons.”
“And what happened when you went back to Dewer’s Hollow last night, Henry? You went there on the advice of your therapist and now you’re consulting a detective. What did you see that changed everything?”
Henry took another drag of his cigarette before answering slowly.
“It’s a strange place, the Hollow. Makes you feel so cold inside, so afraid...”
The detective rolled his eyes and sighed irritably.
“Yes, if I wanted poetry I’d read John’s emails to his girlfriends. Much funnier.”
John gave a heavy sigh hoping to release the urge to throttle his flat mate in a manner that didn’t lead to actual homicide. “What did you see?”
There was a pause before Henry spoke again.
“Footprints – on the exact spot where I saw my father torn apart.”
Looking exasperated, Sherlock leaned back in his seat. John ignored him and continued his questioning.
“Man’s or a woman’s?”
“Neither. They were-“
“Is that it?” Sherlock interrupted, “nothing else. Footprints. Is that all?”
“Yes,” Henry stuttered, thrown off by the interruption, “but they were-“
“No, sorry.” Sherlock slapped his hands against the arms of his chair. “Doctor Mortimer wins. Childhood trauma masked by an invented memory. Boring! Goodbye, Mr Knight. Thank you for smoking.”
“No, but what about the footprints-?”
“Oh, they’re probably paw prints; could be anything.” Sherlock waved his hand dismissively and flicked his fingers to the door to indicate to Henry to leave. “Therefore nothing. Off to Devon with you; have a cream tea on me.”
And with that, he stood up and made for the kitchen. Henry turned in his seat angrily.
“Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”
The detective stopped dead.
After a moment he slowly turned and made his way back to stare down at Henry.
“Say that again,” he ordered.
“I found the footprints; they were-“
“No, no, no, your exact words. Repeat your exact words from a moment ago, exactly as you said them.”
Henry thought for a moment, then slowly recited his words back to him.
“Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic ... hound.”
Sherlock raised his head. Then, so quietly his words were almost imperceptible;
“I’ll take the case.”
“Sorry, what?!” John cried, head shooting up in shock.
Sherlock had pressed his palms together in front of his mouth and was slowly placing the living room.
“Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It’s very promising.”
“No-no-no, sorry, what?!” John spluttered, “a minute ago, footprints were boring; now they’re very promising?!”
“It’s nothing to do with footprints,” Sherlock snapped, “as ever, John, you weren’t listening. Baskerville: ever heard of it?”
”Vaguely.” John nodded. “It’s very hush-hush.”
“Sounds like a good place to start.”
“Ah!” Henry’s face has brightened considerably. “You’ll come down, then?”
“No, I can’t leave London at the moment.” John frowned at him. “Far too busy. Don’t worry – putting my best man onto it.” He clapped John on the shoulder beaming. “Always rely on John to send me the relevant data, as he never understands a word of it himself.”
“What are you talking about, you’re ‘busy’?!” John protested, “you don’t have a case! A minute ago you were complaining-“
“Bluebell, John!” Sherlock cried, “I’ve got Bluebell! The case of the vanishing, glow-in-the-dark rabbit!” He looked at Henry seriously. “NATO’s in uproar.”
“Oh, sorry, no,” Henry slumped back on his seat, “you’re not coming, then?”
The detective pulled a regretful expression and shook his head sadly. John groaned conceding defeat and moved to the mantelpiece as his friend grinned.
He lifted the skull off the mantle and pulled out the cigarette pack he had stuffed in their two weeks ago. He tossed it to Sherlock, but to his surprise and irritated astonishment, he merely tossed it over his shoulder the second he caught it.
“I don’t need those any more.” He smiled smugly. “I’m going to Dartmoor.” He walked out of the living room calling over his shoulder. “You go on ahead, Henry. We’ll follow later.”
The man in question scrambled to his feet blinking confusedly.
“Er, sorry, so you are coming?”
Sherlock appeared in the doorway radiating his sheer inappropriate delight.
“Twenty year old disappearance; a monstrous hound? I wouldn’t miss this for the world!”
Remember me?- I certainly remember you, Sherlock Holmes isn’t a name you forget easily XD - Wow how long has it been? Twelve years? More? And now you’re a famous big city detective huh? I always thought you’d end up being a pirate from what you always told me ;p.
You should come down to visit sometime, we could catch up? It’s sad that we lost contact when we were younger, you, Rory and Mels were my best friends. Speaking of Mels, she’s ended up on the wrong side of the law enforcement career (unsurprisingly)- she says hi BTW. Rory says hi too, he’s just the same!
But you, wow! Famous detective! Love the blog BTW. The Aluminium Crutch one is my favourite! Did you ever solve the mystery of our Doctor friend, huh? Jk, obviously XD
But all seriousness you should come and visit. They’ve got an inn and everything in Leadworth now (its still soooooo quiet here though. London must be so exciting. V. Jealous :p)
Amy Pond x
P.S. Changed the name from Amelia, too fairytale for me.
P.P.S. Feel free to bring John too! He sounds really nice :)
P.P.P.S! Did you really not know the Earth went round the Sun? XD
Sherlock read over Amelia’s- or rather Amy’s- private comment on his website. It had been fifteen years, not twelve, since he had last seen Amelia- she had been seven, he had been ten- and now she wanted to meet up again. He deduced that the only reason she had heard his name again (she was right it was a unique name that she was unlikely to forget) was due to the increased publicity he had suddenly gained in his cases. Deciding to put his answer to Amy’s- in his mind- strange request to come down and visit with John if he so felt like it to one side for the minute he was interrupted from his thoughts by two things;
First, that John had come outside with his suitcase. Second, that Mrs Hudson’s argument with Mr Chatterjee had increased in volume and something had been thrown against the window.
“Oh!” John winced as whatever it was bounced off the glass. “Looks like Mrs Hudson finally got to the wife in Doncaster.”
“Mmm,” Sherlock nodded in agreement, “wait ’til she finds out about the one in Islamabad.”
John sniggered as he climbed into the taxi with Sherlock close behind.
“Paddington Station, please.”
He’d ask John about it later.
The train and subsequent drive to Dartmoor had been exasperating. Sherlock had spent the majority of the train journey making observations about the passengers at a Volume he probably thought was quiet but they had received several funny looks. John had given up after the first five minutes and taken a book out much to his friend’s complete and total indignation.
The friend in question was now stood dramatically atop a large stone outcrop- after a less dramatic and more undignified scrabbling to get up there- turning to look across the moors whilst John consulted the map.
“There’s Baskerville,” John called pointing towards the silo like collection of buildings about a mile or so ahead of them, he pointed behind them, “that’s Grimpen Village.” He squinted at the map and then nodded pointing to a dark forested area between the silo and them. “So that must be ... yeah, it’s Dewer’s Hollow.”
Sherlock paused looking between all three locations briefly before pointing to a stretch of field between the complex and hollow.
“Hmm?” John peered through the binoculars he had hung round his neck at the fences and skull faced signs. “Minefield?” He guessed. “Technically Baskerville’s an army base, so I guess they’ve always been keen to keep people out.”
Henry had recommended a local inn called the Cross Keys for their stay; the second Sherlock pulled the borrowed jeep up in the car park they could both tell that Sherlock’s snide comment to Henry about Dartmoor’s tourism had been correct. A young man’s was leading a tour group stood by a blackboard sign with a drawing of a giant black wolf-like creature. ,
“ ... three times a day, tell your friends,” he was saying as the year made their way to the inn’s door, “tell anyone! Don’t be strangers, and remember ...” he put on a dramatic voice as he spoke, “stay away from the moor at night if you value your lives!”
There was some bursts of giggling before the tourists dispersed chattin excitedly and animatedly. Sherlock rolled his eyes and popped his collar up and John gave him anpointed look.
“I’m cold,” he insisted but his friend merely scoffed.
The tour guide from earlier pulled a wolf mask on and jumped at some of the tourists from earlier- one woman shrieked in surprise but laughed once the surprise had faded. Sherlock rolled his eyes again and stepped into the Inn.
Henry cowered behind the log, glasses all but slipping off his nose as he stared in horror. His father was yelling and screaming at him to run as the giant monstrous creature tore into his back...
Henry opened his eyes.
“That part doesn’t change,” he said quietly, voice quavering a little.
Louise looked down at her notes and then back at him, face all concerned professionalism.
“What does?” she asked and Henry dragged a hand down his face trying to concentrate.
“Oh, there’s something else...” he squeezed his eyes tight, “It-it’s a word...”
Sighing heavily in concentration, he closed his eyes again.
““Liberty”,” he managed to say.
“There’s another word... “In.” I-N. “Liberty In.”” His eyes snapped open and he glanced over to his therapist. “What do you think it means?”
All Louise could do was shake her head.
Notice something different about young Henry? ;) How else do you think he saw what he did?
While Sherlock prowled around the interior of the pub as John checked in. As the manager, who’d introduced himself as Gary, handed over the keys he gave an awkward, apologetic smile.
“Eh, sorry we couldn’t do a double room for you boys,” he apologised and John sighed.
“That’s fine. We-we’re not ...”
But Gary had this knowing smile on his face that John had seen far too many times throughout his friendship with Sherlock. This couldn’t happen in every friendship right? Mrs Hudson, that waiter friend of Sherlock’s- Andrew? Angelo?- and now Gary. With another sigh he gave up even bothering and just handed over the money for a drink he had bought.
“There you go.”
“Oh, ta. I’ll just get your change.”
Gary moved to the till and John’s gaze fell on a pile of receipts skewered on the bar. One, he thought with a frown, was labelled “Undershaw Meat Supplies.” Quickly he ripped it and stuffed it in his pocket as the barman returned with his change baring a big grin.
“There you go.”
“I couldn’t help noticing,” John began, “on the map of the moor: a skull and crossbones...?”
“Oh that, aye,” Gary nodded.
“Pirates?” John joked and Gary chuckled.
“Eh, no, no. The Great Grimpen Minefield, they call it.”
“Oh, right.” He beamed a little internally, he had been right.
“It’s not what you think. It’s the Baskerville testing site. It’s been going for eighty-odd years. I’m not sure anyone really knows what’s there any more.”
Sherlock, who was still prowling around the tables, perked his head up with interest to listen in.
“Oh, not just explosives.” Gary pointed at him. “Break into that place and – if you’re lucky – you just get blown up, so they say ...” he shrugged and smiled cheerfully. “In case you’re planning on a nice wee stroll.”
John laughed and nodded.
”Ta. I’ll remember.”
“Aye. No, it buggers up tourism a bit, so thank God for the demon hound!” He chuckled again and cleared some glasses behind the bar. “Did you see that show, that documentary?”
“Quite recently, yeah.”
“Aye.” Gary looked at the ceiling clasping his hands laughin. “God bless Henry Knight and his monster from hell!”
“Ever seen it?” John asked, “the hound?”
“Me? No.” He pointed just past John who turned to see the tour guide from earlier on his phone visible through the doorway. “Fletcher has. He runs the walks – the Monster Walks for the tourists, you know? He’s seen it.”
“That’s handy for trade,” John said wryly as a shorter man stepped out of the kitchen.
“I’m just saying we’ve been rushed off our feet, Billy,” Gary said turning to him, the cook- Billy- nodded smiling.
“Yeah. Lots of monster-hunters. Doesn’t take much these days. One mention on Twitter and...” He mimed an explosion in his hands. “Oomph!”. He turned to the manager. “We’re out of WKD.”
As Gary walked to the bar, Billy turned to John sighing exasperatedly.
“What with the monster and that ruddy prison, I don’t know how we sleep nights. Do you, Gary?”
Gary smiled and placed his hand affectionately on Billy’s shoulder grinning at John.
“Like a baby.”
“That’s not true.” He leaned in as if conspiratorally to John. “He’s a snorer.”
Billy gestured to Sherlock who had lost interest in the tables and was making his way outside.
”Is yours a snorer?”
John somehow managed to constrain his frustrated groan and eye roll.
“... Got any crisps?”
Outside, Sherlock swiped a half-drunk pint of beer from a nearby empty table and walked over towards Fletcher. This was passably ‘normal’ right? A copy of the Racing Post was sticking out of the guide’s back pocket and he glanced up at Sherlock as he finished off the trivial call he was making.
“Mind if I join you?” Sherlock gestured to the chair. Fletcher shrugged but the detective was already sitting down with or without his approval.
“It’s not true, is it?” Fletcher blinked at him. “You haven’t actually seen this ... hound thing.”
He grinned in a friendly way- John would later inform him that the grin he could see as he walked over looked as though Sherlock were about to go for Fletcher’s neck. The guide squinted at him and then sniffed disinterestedly.
“You from the papers?”
“No,” Sherlock huffed, disgusted by the thought, “nothing like that. Just curious. Have you seen it?”
“Got any proof?”
“Why would I tell you if I did?” Fletcher huffed getting to his feet as John finally approached with his own pint. “‘Scuse me.”
“I called Henry-“ John began but Sherlock quickly cut him off.
“Bet’s off, John, sorry.”
“What?” John blinked as he sat down.
“Bet?” Fletcher asked with a frown at the same time.
The detective ignored them both in favour of looking at his watch.
“My plan needs darkness.” He examined the sky and nodded satisfied. “Reckon we’ve got another half an hour of light-“
“Wait, wait.” Fletcher moves back in and stared between the two of them, new interest in his eyes. “What bet?”
Bingo, Sherlock thought with a grin and he inclined his head towards John.
“Oh, I bet John here fifty quid that you couldn’t prove you’d seen the hound.”
For a man with a fairly simple mind, John thankfully caught on quickly and looked at Fletcher.
“Yeah, the guys in the pub said you could.”
Fletcher grinned smugly sticking his finger in Sherlock’s face.
“Well, you’re gonna lose your money, mate.”
“Yeah?” The detective challenged.
“Yeah. I’ve seen it.” Fletcher dug his phone out his pocket, a proud smile on his face. “Only about a month ago, up at the Hollow. It was foggy, mind – couldn’t make much out.”
“I see. No witnesses, I suppose.”
“Wait ...” The guide tapped a couple of times on his phone and held the screen out to show him. “There.”
The photo in question looked like a perfectly ordinary... well... blob. It was dark and furry but there was no smokiness to its pear ace like Henry has described. It could have been anything. Sherlock gave a derisive snort as John took his turn to examine it.
“Is that it?” The detective scoffed and Fletcher scowled at him. “It’s not exactly proof, is it? Sorry, John. I win-“
“Wait, wait!” The guide cut in again stuffing his phone in his pocket. “That’s not all. People don’t like going up there, you know – to the Hollow. Gives them a...” His face twisted “... bad sort of feeling.”
“Ooh! Is it haunted?” Sherlock mocked and gave Fletcher a disbelievingly look, John snorted a little. “Is that supposed to convince me?”
“Could be,” Fletcher shrugged, “but I reckon there is something out there – something from Baskerville, escaped.”
“A clone?” Sherlock barely held back his sceptical snigger. “A super-dog?!”
“Maybe. God knows what they’ve been spraying on us all these years, or putting in the water. I wouldn’t trust ’em as far as I could spit.”
The detective nodded in lieu of the photograph.
“Is that the best you’ve got?”
The guide actually seemed to go uncertain, clearly debating with himself whether to continue. Eventually he let out a sigh and began speaking.
“I had a mate once who worked for the MOD,” he began, “one weekend we were meant to go fishin’ but he never showed up – well, not ’til late. When he did, he was white as a sheet.” He swallowed. “I can see him now. “I’ve seen things today, Fletch,” he said, “that I never wanna see again. Terrible things.” He’d been sent to some secret Army place – Porton Down, maybe; maybe Baskerville, or somewhere else.” Fletcher leaned in closer. “Said he’d been to see some top secret organisation right? Bigger than the MI’s and FBI’s or whatever. He said that in the labs there – the really secret labs, he said he’d seen ... terrible things. Rats as big as dogs, he said, and dogs ...”. He pulled something out of his rucksack that was sat on the bench. “... dogs the size of horses.”
What he was holding was a concrete cast of a dog’s paw print – but the print was at least four times the size of a regular dog paw with the claw markings at the top deep and almost as wide as the toes. John immediately pounced grinning a little smugly.
“Er, we did say fifty?”
Sherlock huffed as Fletcher gave a triumphant sort of noise and handed the note over to a very happy looking doctor. ,
With a scowl directed at both John and Fletcher, Sherlock swiped off his stolen beer glass and stomped off in a manner that definitely wasn’t sulking. No matter what John may quip later.
This is by far the stupidest thing we’ve ever done, John thought as Sherlock halted at the gate of the Baskerville complex. And there was an incredibly long list of stupid things that they had done before this; Sherlock chasing masked assassins on one of John’s dates, Sherlock entering various places without John only to end up strangled, bruised or generally pissed off...
The more he thought about it, Sherlock was the one doing the stupid things dragging John along for the ride. He gave an exasperated sigh smiling as innocently as possible as a guard carrying a submachine gun approached them.
To John’s immediate surprise, Sherlock handed over a pass without hesitation.
As he walked away, another security guard led an Alsatian sniffer dog around the jeep, presumably to check for explosives.
“You’ve got ID for Baskerville. How?” John asked quietly and Sherlock coughed a little.
“It’s not specific to this place. It’s my brother’s. Access all areas. I, um ...” he cleared his throat “... acquired it ages ago, just in case.”
“Brilliant!” John groaned.
“What’s the matter?”
“We’ll get caught.”
“No we won’t- well, not just yet.”
“Caught in five minutes,” John said firmly, “”Oh, hi, we just thought we’d come and have a wander round your top secret weapons base.” “Really? Great! Come in – kettle’s just boiled.” That’s if we don’t get shot.”
The gates began to slide open as the security guard returned with pass.
“Clear,” the dog handler announced and John blew out a breath he didn’t realise he had been holding.
“Thank you very much, sir,” the first guard said with no warmth as he handed Sherlock the pass back.
As the car rolled forward, John couldn’t help shake his head at this. Never in his life did he think he’d been performing Mission Impossible with Sherlock.
“Mycroft’s name literally opens doors,” he muttered.
“I’ve told you,” Sherlock shrugged, “he practically is the British government. I reckon we’ve got about twenty minutes before they realise something’s wrong.”
Of course Fletcher hasn’t got the real Hound in the picture. ;) That comes later.
Chapter 5: Beast
This is when the story gets a bit more Superlock. I changed some stuff to bring it in ready for the rest of the story :)
A young corporal rushed towards the car as various soldiers and scientists in lab coats eyed the jeep not suspiciously, but definitely warily. He stopped in front of Sherlock practically ignoring John as he looked at the taller man uncertainly.
“What is it?” he asked, “are we in trouble?”
‘“Are we in trouble, sir?”’ Sherlock corrected and the corporal nodded shortly.
“Yes, sir, sorry, sir.”
Nevertheless, he stopped directly in front of them holding out his hands to prevent them getting nearer to the entrance.
“You were expecting us?”
“Your ID showed up straight away, Mr Holmes,” the soldier explained and stood to attention, “Corporal Lyons, security. Is there something wrong, sir?”
“Well, I hope not, Corporal,” Sherlock said crisply, “I hope not.”
“It’s just we don’t get inspected here, you see, sir. It just doesn’t happen.”
“Ever heard of a spot check?” John asked and Lyons finally turned to him. John held out his own ID from his wallet not to be out done by his friend. “Captain John Watson, Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers.”
Even before he finished speaking, the corporal had come to attention and saluted. John crisply returned the salute feeling quite smug as Sherlock gave him an approving look.
“Sir. Major Barrymore and won’t be pleased, sir. He’ll want to see you both. Dr Hess is away in London right now- Barrymore is in charge.
“I’m afraid we won’t have time for that,” John interrupted, “we’ll need the full tour right away. Carry on.”
Lyon’s hesitated eyes flickering to Sherlock who gave him a cool, imperious stare.
“That’s an order, Corporal.”
He spun around and quickly began marching towards the door. Sherlock glanced at John who was beaming proudly. With an eye roll, the youngest Holmes brother swiped the access card in the reader with ACCESS GRANTED flashing on the screen beside it. Sherlock glanced at his watch.
Sixteen minutes and counting.
The door swung open and Lyons Led them to the next door removing his beret as he did so.
“Nice touch,” Sherlock muttered as Lyons swiped his card.
“Haven’t pulled rank in ages.” John sounded pleased.
His friend grinned.
Sherlock swiped the badge again to the lift with five floors. The lowest was marked B- B.M.O.L. unlike the others which were numbered. Sherlock frowned but Lyons merely pressed -1 obviously intending to follow through on the “whole tour” that had been demanded. The lift doors opened into a lab so white that it was practically glaring. Some scientists in face masks tilted their heads curiously. Two men in sharp suits- one with light blue eyes, stubble and a more casual look with a lab coat over his, laughing now but the mirth fading as his eyes followed them; the other taller by a good few inches, stockier, with dark brown hair and a calculating sort of stare. Sherlock’s attention was drawn from them by a monkey screeching as it hurled itself at the bars towards them. Sherlock spun on his heel as he passes the cage, looking at the monkey and the chain around its neck.
“How many animals do you keep down here?”
“Lots, sir,” Lyons replied vaguely as the men in suits left the room.
Another scientist walks across the lab with a beagle on a lead.
“Any ever escape?”
“They’d have to know how to use that lift, sir,” Lyons said with mirth in his voice, “we’re not breeding them that clever.”
“Unless they have help.”
A blonde man in a biohazard suit sans mask smiled at them as they approached.
“Ah, and you are?”
“Sorry, Doctor Frankland,” Lyons greeted, “I’m just showing these gentlemen around.”
“Ah, new faces, huh?” Frankland beamed. “Nice. Careful you don’t get stuck here, though. I only came to fix a tap!”
John chuckled politely as Frankland walked towards the lift.
“How far down does that lift go?”
“Quite a way, sir,” Lyons answered with the same irritating vagueness.
“Mmm-hmm. And what’s down there?”
Lyon’s face twitched.
“Well, we have to keep the bins somewhere, sir. This way please, gentlemen.”
John didn’t need to be Sherlock to know he was lying. The detective was watching Frankland who was in turn eyeing them with interest as he waited for the lift.
“So what exactly is it that you do here?” The doctor asked and Lyons raised an eyebrow at him.
“I thought you’d know, sir, this being an inspection.”
If he were to get any more vague... John was seriously considering throttling the information out of him.
“Well, I’m not an expert, am I?” he pointed out barely keeping the spiky irritation out of his voice.
“Everything from stem cell research, to trying to cure the common cold, sir.”
“But mostly weaponry?”
Lyons gave a strange sort of smile. It was somewhere between amused, mysterious, smug and secretive.
“Of one sort or another, yes.”
He swiped his card through the reader of a door at the side of the lab waiting for Sherlock as John’s interest was certainly peaked.
“Biological, chemical ...?”
“One war ends, another begins, sir. New enemies to fight. We have to be prepared.”
Sherlock checked his watch.
Seven minutes and counting.
The door opened to the sight of a monkey shrieking and holding out its hand high. A female scientist was writing on a clipboard with an Assistant next to her.
“Okay, Michael, let’s try Harlow Three next time-“
“Doctor Stapleton,” Lyons greeted and Sherlock frowned.
“Stapleton,” he muttered thoughtfully.
The woman who must have been in her forties looked up curiously.
“Yes?” She looked at Sherlock and John. “Who’s this?”
“Priority Ultra, ma’am. Orders from on high. An inspection.”
Stapleton’s eyes widened.
“Really?” she asked disbelievingly.
“We’re to be accorded every courtesy, Doctor Stapleton,” Sherlock said cooly, “what’s your role at?”
The scientist laughed slightly shaking her head.
“Er, accorded every courtesy, isn’t that the idea?” John prompted and she snorted again.
“I’m not free to say. Official secrets.”
Sherlock smiled unpleasantly at her.
“Oh, you most certainly are free,” his smiled dropped as his tone became menacing, “... and I suggest you remain that way.”
John blinked at him out the corner of his eye. The smile slid from Stapleton’s face and she swallowed nervously.
“I have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. I like to mix things up – genes, mostly; now and again actual fingers.”
Sherlock seemed to have had one of his as John had deemed them “lightbulb” moments the second she said the word ‘genes’ and was reaching into his pocket before she finished the sentence.
“Stapleton,” he said grinning, “I knew I knew your name.”
“I doubt it.”
“People say there’s no such thing as coincidence.” He scribbled something down on a notepad. “What dull lives they must lead.”
He held up his notebook to her on which he had written a single large word: “BLUEBELL”.
Stapleton stared at it in face turning pale whilst Sherlock watched her face closely.
“Have you been talking to my daughter?” she demanded, voice tight.
“Why did Bluebell have to die, Doctor Stapleton?” The detective asked as he put his notepad away.
It took John a moment to make the connection.
“The rabbit?!” he spluttered bewildered as Stapleton stared blankly at Sherlock who, as per usual, ignored John in favour of what he was doing himself.
“Disappeared from inside a locked hutch, which was always suggestive...”
“The rabbit?!” John repeated.
“Clearly an inside job...”
“Oh, you reckon?” Stapleton challenged.
“Why? Because it glowed in the dark.”
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about!” Stapleton denied, shaking her head, “who are you?”
Even as she spoke Sherlock checked his watch again.
“Well, I think we’ve seen enough for now, Corporal,” he said quickly, “thank you so much.”
“That’s it?” Lyons asked surprised.
“That’s it.” He turned and headed briskly for the door with Sherlock struggling to keep pace. “It’s this way, isn’t it?”
“Just a minute-!” Stapleton spluttered and John hissed at Sherlock.
“Did we just break into a military base to investigate a rabbit?!”
His friend didn’t answer and quickly swiped his card, Lyons hurrying to do the same. Barely a minute later and his phone chimed in his pocket. Mycroft.
What are you
Sherlock gave a sarcastic laugh.
“Twenty-three minutes. Mycroft’s getting slow.”
Reaching the lift doors, the cards were swiped again. The doors opened to reveal Doctor Frankland standing inside as if he had been waiting in there. Trying- and failing- to look nonchalant, he smiled at them.
“Hello ... again.”
Narrowing his eyes suspiciously, Sherlock walked into the lift with the others. When the doors opened again, a bearded man in military uniform was waiting for them and glaring clearly pissed off.
“Er, um, Major ...” Lyons stuttered.
“This is bloody outrageous,” the man snapped, “why wasn’t I told?”
“Major Barrymore, is it?” John stepped forward as they went out the lift hurriedly. “Yes, well, good. Very good.” He offered him his hand to shake. It was rejected with a scowl and he withdrew quickly. “We’re very impressed, aren’t we, Mr Holmes?”
Sherlock’s phone sounded another text alert and he reaches into his pocket for it again.
He stepped past Barrymore as he looks at his text message which reads:
What’s going on Sherlock? Why are you in Baskerville?
Ignoring his brother’s demands, Sherlock continued walking to the exit. Nearly there...
“The whole point of Baskerville was to eliminate this kind of bureaucratic nonsense...” the Major ranted.
“I’m so sorry, Major.”
“Inspections?! No Letters base has been inspected since their founding! Dr Hess will not be pleased-“
“New policy,” the detective forced down his curiosity, “can’t remain unmonitored forever. Goodness knows what you’d get up to.” He spoke out the corner of his mouth to John was keeping pace with him. “Keep walking.”
“Sir!” Lyons cried hitting an alarm button on the wall. Alarms blared, red lights flashed and the security door locked.
“ID unauthorised, sir.”
“What?” Barrymore demanded.
“I’ve just had the call.”
“Is that right?” His glare rounded on the pair. “Send Ketch up here,” he ordered and then glared at the two. “Who are you?”
“Look, there’s obviously been some kind of mistake,” John began as Frankland slowly began to make his way towards them.
Barrymore took the ID card Sherlock gave him as Lyons spoke into a walkie talkie.
“Clearly not Mycroft Holmes,” he spat and John pulled his notebook out.
“Computer error, Major. It’ll all have to go in the report.”
“What the hell’s going on?!”
“It’s all right, Major.” Frankland smiled proudly. “I know exactly who these gentlemen are.”
“Yeah. I’m getting a little slow on faces but Mr Holmes here isn’t someone I expected to show up in this place.”
“Ah, well ...” Sherlock began and Frankland stretched out his hand to be shaken.
“Good to see you again, Mycroft.”
John barely managed to mask his surprise as Sherlock smiled falsely shaking Frankland’s hand.
“I had the honour of meeting Mr Holmes at the W.H.O. conference in ...” he pretended to think, “Brussels, was it?”
“Vienna, that’s it.” He looked at Barrymore. “This is Mr Mycroft Holmes, Major. There’s obviously been a mistake.”
Barrymore turned and nodded sharply to Lyons who flipped the alarm off.
“Order Ketch to stand down.” He glared at Frankland. “On your head be it, Doctor Frankland.”
The scientist merely laughed and waved a hand at Lyons.
“I’ll show them out, Corporal.”
“Very well, sir.”
Sherlock spun on his heel and walked towards the now open entrance door. John and Frankland followed; Barrymore’s unhappy glare was not missed by any of them.
“Thank you,” Sherlock said without sincerity.
“This is about Henry Knight, isn’t it?” Frankland asked, neither answered but he took the silence as confirmation. “I thought so. I knew he wanted help but I didn’t realise he was going to contact Sherlock Holmes!” Sherlock grimaced and he laughed. “Oh, don’t worry. I know who you really are. I’m never off your website. Thought you’d be wearing the hat, though.”
Sherlock ground his teeth.
“That wasn’t my hat.”
“I hardly recognise him without the hat!”
“It wasn’t my hat.”
“I love the blog too, Doctor Watson.”
“Oh, cheers!” He smiled politely.
“The, er, the Pink thing ...”
“... and that one about the aluminium crutch!”
“Yes.” John nodded, apparently even Royalty liked that story.
“You know Henry Knight?” Sherlock interrupted.
“Well, I knew his parents better,” Frankland explained. “First his mother, then his father they both had all sorts of mad theories about this place. Still, his father in particular was a good friend.”
He looked back to where Major Barrymore is standing some distance away watching.
“Listen, I can’t really talk now.” He held out a card smiling. “Here’s my, er, cell number. If I could help with Henry, give me a call.”
“I never did ask, Doctor Frankland.” Frankland turned to the detective expectantly. “What exactly is it that you do here?”
“Oh, Mr Holmes, I would love to tell you – but then, of course, I’d have to kill you!” He laughed cheerfully.
“That would be tremendously ambitious of you.”
The smile faded into embarrassment.
“Tell me about Doctor Stapleton.”
“Never speak ill of a colleague.”
“Yet you’d speak well of one, which you’re clearly omitting to do.”
“I do seem to be, don’t I?” He shrugged and Sherlock held up the card.
“I’ll be in touch.”
Sherlock and John turned back to their jeep and had gotten to it by the time John decided to speak.
“What was all that about the rabbit?”
In answer, Sherlock smiled briefly and pulled his coat tighter around himself, flipping up the collar. John rolled his eyes.
“Oh, please,” he groaned and his friend blinked at him, “can we not do this, this time?”
“You being all mysterious with your cheekbones,” he gestured, “and turning your coat collar up so you look cool.”
As he opened the car door and it took an apparently disconcerted Sherlock a few moments before he could speak. He looked so incredulous that John had to try hard not to laugh as he spluttered indignantly.
“... I don’t do that.”
“Yeah you do.”
Sherlock had descended into what John was going to call The Great Sulk as he drove them across the moors and John was the one who eventually had to break the petulant silence.
“So, the email from Kirsty,” he began, “the, er...” he sighed knowing there was no serious way to phrase it, “missing luminous rabbit.”
“Kirsty Stapleton, whose mother specialises in genetic manipulation,” Sherlock pointed out and John raised an eyebrow sceptically.
“She made her daughter’s rabbit glow in the dark.”
“Probably a fluorescent gene removed and spliced into the specimen. Simple enough these days.”
“So ...” John was still failing to see the complete significance,
“So we know that Doctor Stapleton performs secret genetic experiments on animals. The question is...” he paused for a moment. “Has she been working on something deadlier than a rabbit?”
“To be fair, that is quite a wide field,” John mused as they pulled up at Henry Knight’s enormous four storey house. There was a large glass conservatory to one side that was quite run down and in need of a paint job.
Henry answered the door almost immediately, dark circles under his eyes giving a tired sort of smile.
“Hi,” he greeted, Sherlock ignored him.
“Hi,” John said somewhat apologetically as Sherlock at least had the good grace to wipe his feet on the doormat.
“Come in, come in.”
John stared at the high ceilinged hallway and blinked owlishly at Henry.
“This is, uh ... Are you, um ...” he tried to find a suitable word, “... rich?”
“Yeah,” Henry nodded.
“It’s mostly inherited from my father’s side,” Henry explained leading them into the kitchen, “he met my mother in Oregon and they came here together.” He gestured for the two of them to sit at the counter and help themselves to coffee. An old leather book was sitting on the edge. “I remembered something else from that night.” He paused as Sherlock mixed sugar into his coffee mug, “It’s-it’s a couple of words. It’s what I keep seeing. “Liberty” ...”
“Liberty,” John repeated reaching for his notebook. Henry looked at him and nodded.
““Liberty” and ... “in.” It’s just that.” He nodded to the leather book on the side that Sherlock was eyeing with some interest. “I was searching Dad’s old journal, he used to say he kept stuff in there but I think he was just using it for novel writing or something.”
As Henry turned around to put the milk back into the fridge. John looked at Sherlock.
“Mean anything to you?”
““Liberty in death” – isn’t that the expression?” Sherlock said softly, “the only true freedom.” As Henry turned back, Sherlock gestured to the book. “May I?”
“It was just for novel writing I think.”
Sherlock flipped through it noting the names inscribed in the front- Kate James & David Knight- seeing various drawings of gothic horror style creatures; Vampires, werewolves, Wendigos, Demons, Hellhounds... his eyebrows raised at the last one. With a small gesture to John whilst Henry rubbed his face tiredly he pointed to the crude drawing of a pit bull like creature snarling labelled ‘Hellhound’ in the journal. John frowned and glanced back to Henry who was lookin back at them expectantly.
“What now, then?” Henry asked.
“Sherlock’s got a plan,” John began and his friend nodded draining his cup and closing the book.
“We take you back out onto the moor ...”
“Okay ...” Henry said nervously.
“... and see if anything attacks you.”
“What?!” John cried sharply, his head snapping round to Sherlock who was merely smiling cheerfully at Henry who had turned a shade paler.
“That should bring things to a head.”
“At night?” Henry asked tightly, “you want me to go out there at night?”
“That’s your plan?” John demanded and snorted incredulously when he saw his friend was totally serious. “Brilliant!”
“Got any better ideas?” Sherlock pointed out.
“That’s not a plan!”
“Listen,” Sherlock said firmly, “if there is a monster out there, John, there’s only one thing to do: find out where it lives.”
He looked round to the all but palid Henry and smiled widely at him before taking another drink from his mug. Henry, John noted, did not look terribly encouraged by this.
By the time they reached the woods that led to Dewer’s Hollow night had fallen completely. All three had flashlights but clearly Henry wasn’t reassured by the idea of safety in numbers. A pair of glasses were perched on his nose- he had told them that they had belonged to his mother and that he often wore them when he needed good luck (Sherlock had scoffed at that)- they weren’t prescription glasses as far as Henry could tell and his hands were trembling slightly. Sherlock hadn’t seemed to notice. It was as they were walking down a path, Henry leading the way, then Sherlock, and John bringing up the rear, that John heard a faint rustling to his left. He could see nothing though despite what sounded like paws padding through the undergrowth.
“Sher...” he began turning but to his dismay discovered the two had walked on without him and were no longer in sight.
Great, John thought with a slight shiver.
“Sherlock ...” he hissed and hurried after them. “Sherlock!”
Henry’s torch picked out the fencing surrounding the minefield and he shivered slightly. They were close. The glasses he wore gave the world a slight blue tint but they weren’t sunglasses as far as he could tell. He had owned a pair like them when he was a child but had long outgrown them...
“Met a friend of yours,” Sherlock interrupted his train of thought.
“What?” he blinked.
“Oh, right,” he nodded distractedly, “Bob, yeah.”
“Seems pretty concerned about you,” the detective noted and Henry smiled a little.
“He’s a worrier, bless him. He’s been very kind to me since I came back.”
“He knew your parents.”
“But he works at Baskerville,” Sherlock pointed out, “didn’t your parents have a problem with that?”
“Well, mates are mates, aren’t they?” Henry shrugged as they drew closer to the Hollow, “I mean, look at you and John.”
“What about us?” The detective asked his voice suddenly sharp and Henry felt his cheeks flushing.
“Well, I mean, he’s a pretty straightforward bloke, and you ...” he trailed off seeing the grim expression on Sherlock’s face, “well, they agreed never to talk about work,” he said instead, “Uncle Bob and my parents.” He stopped swallowing and aimed his torch downwards. “Dewer’s Hollow.” He tried to keep the tremor out of his voice.
“Sherlock ...” John hissed and then snapped his head round when he heard a faint buzzing sound interceded by an eerie metallic thrumming.
He sighed in relief when he discovered the source of the metal was an oil drum. A stench hit his nose and he recoiled, the buzzing turned out to be a large group of flies. Aiming his torch he tried not to gag and the bloody and rotting corpse of a large brown and black dog- shaggy haired and probably what had been photographed by Fletcher- sprawled in the thicket with deep slashes to its muzzle and stomach.
John recoiled stepping backwards when there was a flash of movement from the bushes. The bushes were rustling and moving but whatever it was was already gone. An animalistic howl resounded in the distance and he swallowed running down the path.
Sherlock grumbled under his breath as he tried not to slip over as he headed down the uneven slope into the Hollow. Henry followed more slowly, eyes flicking behind his glasses. He let out a small yelp as he overbalanced and they slid from his nose, thankfully not breaking, and landed by Sherlock’s feet. The detective sighed picking them up and holding them up to peer through them at the strange blue tint of the glass despite them being otherwise clear. There was a loud howl and, through the blue tinted glass, Sherlock saw... it. Snarling face, smoking quality and burning red eyes baring it’s teeth down at him.
His face contorted with horror and the glasses slid from his fingers, Henry snatched them up pushing them back on as Sherlock frantically shone his torch around but whatever it was seemed to have gone. Henry was just as pale next to him, but his face contorted with some kind of excitement.
“Oh my God,” he spluttered as Sherlock remained immobile, “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Did you see it?”
The detective squeezed his eyes open and closed as he struggled to get his mind to grasp what he had seen. It wasn’t possible... but he had seen it... but it couldn’t... he shook his head pushing past Henry and stumbling up the slope almost barrelling into John who had finally joined them.
“Did you hear that?” He asked in lieu of the howling but Sherlock stormed straight past.
He had to keep moving, couldn’t stop to think....
“We saw it,” Henry cried, sounding delighted for some reason, “we saw it.”
“No,” Sherlock bit out harshly. “I didn’t see anything.”
“What?” Sherlock could practically hear the delight sliding out of Henry’s voice, “what are you talking about?”
Sherlock practically growled.
“I didn’t. See. Anything.”
And with that he hurried on with Henry and John trailing behind him.
Chapter 6: Night Terrors
Sherlock had gone off on his own, face tight and controlled telling John to get Henry back and to ask for the leather bound journal. Henry sounded upset as he spoke to John as they hurried inside his house.
“Look, he must have seen it,” he insisted, “I saw it – he must have. He must have. I can’t ... Why? Why?” He stopped in the doorway and have John an anguished look. “Why would he say that? It-it-it-it-it was there. It was.”
John pulled his gloves off and sighed.
“Henry, Henry, I need you to sit down, try and relax, please.”
Henry had flopped onto the sofa already but he was shaking his head shoulders shaking with some delirious sort of laughter. That couldn’t be a good sign.
“I’m okay,” he insisted, “I’m okay!”
“Listen,” John said firmly spying a water bottle and snagging it, “I’m gonna give you something to help you sleep, all right?”
Henry unwrapped his scarf smiling.
“This is good news, John. It’s-it’s-it’s good. I’m not crazy.” He gave another delirious sort of laugh. “There is a hound; there ... there is. And Sherlock – he saw it too. No matter what he said, he saw it.”
“Okay,”John sighed and his eyes landed on the journal that Henry must have moved into the living room, “is it okay if we borrow this.”
“Sure, sure,” Henry waved a hand dismissively, “but he saw it too. I’m not crazy!”
John found Sherlock sitting staunchly upright in an armchair in front of the Cross Keys’ roaring fire in the dining room. He was mumbling slightly, that wasn’t new, eyes flickering like he was seeing something John wasn’t, that wasn’t new, and there was a tumbler of something strong next to him. That was new.
John placed the journal down on the table between them and sunk into the other arm chair.
“Well, he is in a pretty bad way,” he sighed, picking the journal up again, “he’s manic, totally convinced there’s some mutant super-dog roaming the moors.” He grinned at his friend only to see the nervousness in his eyes and the way his hands were clapped in the familiar prayer position in front of his mouth. “And there isn’t, though, is there?” he said carefully. “‘Cause if people knew how to make a mutant super-dog, we’d know...” Sherlock had clasped his fingers together, closed his eyes and was breathing heavily. John was concerned he was about to have a panic attack but that wasn’t like Sherlock... “They’d be for sale. I mean, that’s how it works.” He opened the journal on his lap. “I don’t know maybe the trauma somehow mixed with his Dad’s drawings? There’s some pretty weird stuff in here...” Sherlock pulled in a sharp breath and John closed the book hastily. Sherlock really was distressed. There was no sugar coating or denying it.
Only now he seemed to notice how pale he was, the sweat clinging to his skin, and the way he was worrying his lip.
“So, okay, what have we got?” he asked gently, “we know there’s footprints, ’cause Henry found them; so did the tour guide bloke. I found a mauled dog’s body so a wolf? And we all heard something.” Sherlock blew out another shaky breath and John tried to alleviate his mood. “Maybe we should just look for whoever’s got a big dog,” he joked lightly.
It was spoken so quietly and so quickly that it took John a second to realise he had even spoken let alone what he had said.
“I saw it too,” Sherlock said his voice shaking slightly.
“What?” John repeated shocked and Sherlock looked at him with wide distressed eyes.
“I saw it too, John.”
“Just ... just a minute,” he stuttered disbelievingly and leaning forward in his seat. “You saw what?”
Sherlock finally met his gaze properly but his face twisted as though it physically hurt to admit what he was saying.
“A hound, out there in the Hollow.” He spoke through gritted teeth. “A gigantic hound.”
John let out a disbelievingly laugh which faded as he noticed Sherlock seemed to be blinking back tears. Unsuccessfully too. Something was clearly wrong with his friend.
“Um, look, Sherlock,” he began gently, “we have to be rational about this, okay? Now you, of all people, can’t just ...” Sherlock blew out another breath, more frustrated this time. “Let’s just stick to what we know, yes? Stick to the facts.”
Sherlock looked back at him speaking softly but clearly.
“Once you’ve ruled out the impossible, whatever remains – however improbable – must be true.”
“What does that mean?” John asked.
Looking away again, Sherlock reached down and picked up his drink from a nearby table. His hand was actually shaking as he raised it and he let out a small slightly hysterical snigger.
“Look at me. I’m afraid, John. Afraid.” He took a long drink and lowered the glass, hand trembling the same way John’s had when he returned from Afghanistan a few years ago.
“Sherlock?” he asked concerned, his friend was really starting to worry him.
“Always, been able to keep myself distant ...” another long drink and his voice was shaking just as much as his hand. “... divorce myself from ... feelings. But look, you see ...” he held up the glass in his trembling hand... body’s betraying me. Interesting, yes? Emotions.” He slammed the glass down so forcibly onto the table that several patrons looked over concerned. “The grit on the lens, the fly in the ointment.”
“Yeah, all right, Spock, just ...” John realised he was raising his voice and glanced around apologetically, “... take it easy.” The look his friend gave him could only be described as panic stricken. “You’ve been pretty wired lately, you know you have. I think you’ve just gone out there and got yourself a bit worked up...”
“Worked ... up?” Sherlock practically growled.
“It was dark and scary and maybe those drawings...”
“Me?!” Sherlock scoffed, his voice thick with sarcasm, “there’s nothing wrong with me.” He really began to hyperventilate then, pressing his fingers to his temples and making a noise of anguish. John raised a concerned hand towards him.
“Sherlock ... Sher...”
“There is nothing wrong with me!” Sherlock shouted, face contorted with fury his glare landing on John resentfully as the shorter man withdrew into his chair shocked by the outburst, “do you understand?!”
He looked round at the other patrons, all of whom were now staring at him in shock. Sherlock sneered and then looked back at John taking another deep breath.
“You want me to prove it, yes?” His face was still cold. “We’re looking for a dog, yes, a great big dog, that’s your brilliant theory. Cherchez le chien. Good, excellent, yes, where shall we start?” His imperious gaze swept round the patrons who had resumed eating and he pointed to a man and woman in the corner his voice savage and relentless. “How about them? The sentimental widow and her son, the unemployed fisherman. The answer’s yes.”
“Yes?” John asked confused.
“She’s got a West Highland terrier called Whisky,” Sherlock spat, “not exactly what we’re looking for.”
“Oh, Sherlock, for God’s sake ...” he sighed quietly but there was no stopping him.
“Look at the jumper he’s wearing.” It was blue and covered in black holly and reindeers. “Hardly worn. Clearly he’s uncomfortable in it. Maybe it’s because of the material; more likely the hideous pattern, suggesting it’s a present, probably Christmas. So he wants into his mother’s good books. Why? Almost certainly money. He’s treating her to a meal but his own portion is small. That means he wants to impress her, but he’s trying to economise on his own food.”
“Well, maybe he’s just not hungry,” John suggested, his own temper beginning to rise.
“No, small plate,” Sherlock snapped, his voice taking on the quick fire quality that nothing and no-one could stop. “Starter. He’s practically licked it clean. She’s nearly finished her pavlova. If she’d treated him, he’d have had as much as he wanted. He’s hungry all right, and not well-off – you can tell that by the state of his cuffs and shoes.” His voice took on a mocking quality and John glared when he realised his friend was mimicking the question he was expecting him to ask. ““How d’you know she’s his mother?” Who else would give him a Christmas present like that? Well, it could be an aunt or an elder sister, but mother’s more likely. Now, he was a fisherman. Scarring pattern on his hands, very distinctive – fish hooks. They’re all quite old now, which suggests he’s been unemployed for some time. Not much industry in this part of the world, so he’s turned to his widowed mother for help. “Widowed?” Yes, obviously. She’s got a man’s wedding ring on a chain round her neck – clearly her late husband’s and too big for her finger. She’s well-dressed but her jewellery’s cheap. She could afford better, but she’s kept it – it’s sentimental. Now, the dog, tiny little hairs all over the leg from where it gets a little bit too friendly, but no hairs above the knees, suggesting it’s a small dog, probably a terrier. In fact it is – a West Highland terrier called Whisky. “How the hell do you know that, Sherlock?” ’Cause she was on the same train as us and I heard her calling its name and that’s not cheating, that’s listening. I use my senses, John, unlike some people, so you see, I am fine, in fact I’ve never been better, so just Leave. Me. Alone.”
And with that he fixed John with the coldest look John had ever seen. John could only lean back in shock.
“Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “Okay. Okay.” The sheer venom in Sherlock’s tone had left him quite distressed. The man I question was now staring blankly at the fire, breathing heavily. “And why would you listen to me?” His own voice was tight. “I’m just your friend.”
There was a resentful scoff at that.
“I don’t have ‘friends’.”
“Nah,” John said quietly, “wonder why?”
Taking some pleasure in the stricken look on Sherlock’s face, he got up and walked away storming out of the pub leaving Henry’s father’s journal with the detective.
Sherlock watched John’s retreating form, shoulders bunched in anger before flicking his gaze to the leather journal beside him. Downing the rest of the whiskey he had bought whilst his shaking hands had spilled money onto the counter, he picked it up and flipped to the page he had seen before.
Swallowing down the lump in his throat that formed at the image of the supposed “Hellhound” he had seen- this was perfectly ridiculous, he needed to think rationally about this- his eyes scanned the page and began to read.
There were two handwritings in two different pens- one blue, fountain pen, cursive and distinctly feminine had written most of the notes (presumably Henry’s mother), the second black biro and more scrawled (presumably his father) that circled or made notes in the margins- and almost ten pages on the “Hellhounds” themselves. Whatever he had seen, Impossible as it was, it clearly had something to do with the book Henry’s father (or both his parents, Sherlock noted) had been writing or planning to write.
Hellhounds; Demonic Pitbulls, collect souls sold to Hell, Attack Dogs. Controlled by Demons (P.2).
- Can be stalled by salt or ‘Goofer Dust’*
- Can be Killed by; ‘The Colt’**, a Kurdish ‘Demon Knife’*** [Note: Iron in pure Form or large quantities can also kill a Hellhound. Will only injure otherwise]
- Hellhounds are invisible to humans unless they are having their souls collected. Can be seen with glasses burnt in Holy Oil****
*Hoodoo Dust. [Note: Hellhound breath can disperse. Rock salt is heavier and a better alternative]
** Gun created by Samuel Colt. Last known in possession of: Daniel Elkins, Manning, Colorado.
***Knife, jagged edge, dune carvings. Made by Kurds. [Note, I have one]
****Found In Jerusalem. One jar in basement and in car for emergencies. [Note: Six pairs of glasses @ home in wooden box labelled K.J.]. Glasses give world a blue tint be warned. Can be disorientating for some.
Sherlock paused over the line. Glasses that gave the world a blue tint... Henry’s glasses? Those that had belonged to his mother. What he was reading did not seem like a novelist’s plot but was laid out and detailed like a meticulous plan or fact file.
But it was absurd.
Rationally he knew that creatures like Demons and Hellhounds did not exist. Fact.
However, the irrational part of himself- a small inconsequential after thought in his mind he ignored almost completely- dragged up an old memory of a vanishing seemingly bottomless blue box and a strange man who exhaled golden particles.
Drumming his fingers on his knee for several seconds, he snapped the book closed spotting a dark haired woman enter the bar as he made to leave.
Thirties, doctorate, therapist, single, female. Therapist + Female: Louise Mortimer?
His brain clicked to make several more conclusions.
John was still seething nearly ten minutes later when he got a text from Sherlock.
Henry’s therapist currently in Cross Keys Pub
“So?” he asked as he typed that reply.
WHY SHOULD I?
Downloading image ...
Shortly afterwards covertly-taken photograph of Louise Mortimer standing at the bar appeared on his screen. She was pretty in a girl-next-door kind of way with dark brown hair and around John’s age. John sighed.
“Ooh, you’re a bad man,” he muttered and he was unsure whether he was referring to himself or his friend.
Henry jolted awake with a start. The words Liberty and In branding into his mind’s eye as he sat up on the kitchen sofa. He sighed and approached the floor to ceiling glass window pressing his head against the cool glass to calm himself. He buried his head in his hands.
A few minutes later and he was watching the television which was currently playing an old black and white movie he was only half paying attention to. He swallowed uncomfortably as images of large dogs, or possibly wolves, ran across the screen and quickly switched over to a film with a 1940’s rural village of some kind.
It wasn’t fair, he thought irritably, Sherlock must have seen it. There was no possible way he couldn’t have. Henry had been initially more concerned about the glasses- they were the only things he had of his mother any more save a few photographs- but he had seen it! Sherlock must have-
The security lights outside the house suddenly snapped on. Henry swivelled his head to look but there was nothing there. Maybe it was just a squirrel or something. He swallowed down the anxious tightening in his throat as the lights faded. It was fine... it was fine...
Fumbling and filled with panicked urge to do something he changed the channel recoiling at the snarling wolf and the female scream of terror offscreen. Henry hastily switched the television off and the lights snapped on again.
Swallowing, Henry walked closer to the glass doors and towards the kitchen vaguely remembering some words of advice from his father from when he was a child.
If anything frightens you... anything at all... just draw a circle of salt and stand in it and I promise nothing will happen to you.
It was a silly thing they used to do. Ridiculous really. Whenever something scared Henry no matter how small- the lights flickering, the shadows moving over the walls or the bumps in the night- his father would draw “the magic circle”. It was just some silly thing to help reassure him he had supposed.
Instinct made him want to grab it again though there was little he could actually do with salt. The lights faded again and a shadow of something enormous flashed past momentarily.
A cry escaped his lips and he stumbled to the kitchen cabinet fumbling for the drawer and grabbing the old pistol his mother had owned years ago- still loaded. His other hand grabbed the salt tube by pure instinct though it was only when he rushed back to the glass window that he realised he was clutching it. Henry’s breath was coming out in ragged, terrified pants as he moved closer to the glass uncapping the salt and unconsciously pouring it along the base of the window.
It was stupid really. Just reassurance from his childhood. Stupid childhood nostalgia that he needed for reassurance.
He’d just finished when something huge and invisible smacked against the glass with a wild roar with enough force to leave a crack in it. Screaming and wailing in panic, Henry stumbled back and aimed his pistol at the glass.
It was fine, he was going to be fine. It was okay, he was going to-
A desperate sob escaped him as the lights flashed and faded one more time and he curled into himself, sinking to the floor covering his face absolutely terrified.
John was delighted when Louise laughed at one of his stories. He knew this was supposed to be an interview and not, well, a date. But he could hope, couldn’t he?
“That’s so mean!” Louise laughed as John offered the now half-Empty wine bottle they had been sharing.
“Um, more wine, Doctor?”
“Are you trying to get me drunk, Doctor?” she asked airily, quirking an eyebrow and he smiled refilling her glass when she held it out.
“The thought never occurred!”
Louise snorted and rolled her dark eyes.
“Because a while ago I thought you were chatting me up.”
“Ooh! Where did I go wrong?” John asked with a joking sort of grin and Louise gave him a pointed look.
“When you started asking me about my patients,” she suggested and John sighed. He had thought he had been subtle in dropping questions in regard to Henry. Clearly not.
“Well, you see, I am one of Henry’s oldest friends,” he lied and she, again, fixed him with a look.
“Yeah, and he’s one of my patients,” Louise pointed out, “so I can’t talk about him.”
“Although he has told me about all his oldest friends.” John looked at her and was relieved that her expression was more thoughtful than suspicious. “Which one are you?”
“A new one?” he asked hopefully and she snorted. “Okay, what about his parents?They weren’t your patients. Weren’t they some sort of conspiracy nutters ...” he quickly corrected himself when he saw the roasted eyebrow she was giving him “... theorists?”
“You’re only a nutter if you’re wrong,” Louise pointed out with a teasing smile.
“Mm. And were they wrong?”
Louise scoffed at that.
“I should think so!”
“But they got fixated on Baskerville, didn’t they? With what they were doing in there ... Couldn’t Henry have gone the same way, started imagining a hound?”
“Why d’you think I’m going to talk about this?!” Louise asked with a heavy, disappointed sort of sigh and giving him a pointed look.
John gave a small laugh in acknowledgment of her having seen through him and decided to tell her a half truth.
“Because I think you’re worried about him, and because I’m a doctor too... and because I have another friend who might be having the same problem.”
He locked eyes with her’s and was relieved to see she seemed to be actually deliberating in telling him something when a band clapped down on John’s shoulder so unexpectedly he almost jumped out of his seat.
“Doctor Watson!” a familiar voice greeted with boisterous cheer.
“Hi,” John sighed unhappily as he pulled his gaze reluctantly away from Louise and to Bob Frankland, now out of the biohazard suit and in a bright jumper.
“Hello,” he greeted Louise and then turned back to John with a grin, “how’s the investigation going?”
John gave an internal groan of despair.
“What?” Louise blinked, looking at him with narrowed eyes, “investigation?”
Bob blinked at her and then grinned, leaning on the table with both hands.
“Didn’t you know? Don’t you read the blog? Sherlock Holmes!”
“It’s ...” John tried but Louise was looking between him and Frankland with hurt confusion on her face.
“No, it’s ...”
“Private detective!” Frankland explained with devastating disregard and complete obliviousness to what he was doing, he clapped John’s shoulder again. “This is his PA!”
“PA?” John as,ed offended and Frankland paused.
“Well, live-in PA.”
“Perfect!” John groaned seeing Louise’s face close off as she made the same assumption that everyone always seemed to.
“Live-in,” she repeated cooly.
“This is Doctor Mortimer, Henry’s therapist,” John sighed hoping that he could salvage at least some of what was happening. Frankland beamed at her reaching out a hand to shake.
“Oh, hello. Bob Frankland.”
He turned back to John and began speaking lowly.
“Listen, tell Sherlock I’ve been keeping an eye on Stapleton. Any time he wants a little chat ... right?”
“Mm,” John nodded not really listening.
With a final hearty chuckle, Frankland clapped John on the shoulder yet again- it was really getting annoying- and walked off whistling cheerfully as if he was doing something genuinely helpful. Sighing irritably, John turned back only to see Louise standing, coat in hand and face closed off.
“Why don’t you buy him a drink?” she asked snidely as she brushed past, completely misunderstanding, “I think he likes you.”
Why did this always happen? John thought with a groan, resting his chin on his hands and feeling decidedly glum.
Chapter 7: Closer to the Truth
After the terrors of last night, Henry was wholly unprepared for visitors when Sherlock turned up on his doorstep grinning brightly and clutching that worn leather journal in his hands.
“Morning!” he greeted cheerily surging through the door and clasping Henry on the shoulder a look of concern on his face that Henry, even in his exhausted somewhat frenzied state was unsure was genuine, “Oh, how are you feeling?”
Henry groaned and the detective peered at the dark circles under his eyes and the sheen covering his face.
“I’m ...” he stuttered, thrown off by Sherlock’s exuberant energy, “I didn’t sleep very well...”
“That’s a shame. Shall I make you some coffee?” He looked up at the ceiling in apparent fascination pointing and smiling brightly. “Oh look, you’ve got damp!”
He bared a big false grin as Henry frowned sleepily at the ceiling. Sherlock huffed and breezes through into the kitchen blinking when he saw the salt line scattered by the window.
“Cooking?” he quipped, though he knew perfectly well why Henry had done what he had if the journal was anything to go back.
“Um... no...” Henry muttered, face flushing, “it’s just a stupid... never mind..” he moved to pick up a dustpan and brush from under the kitchen sink as Sherlock poured an incredibly strong coffee.
“Listen ... last night...” Sherlock gave him a horrifying attempt at a friendly smile.
“Why did you say you hadn’t seen anything? I mean, I only saw the hound for a moment, but-“
“Hound,” Sherlock interrupted slamming the lid back on the coffee tin from where he had been haphazardly spooning coffee granules into mugs without looking.
“What?” Henry blinked.
“Why do you call it a hound? Why a hound?”
“Why – what do you mean?”
“It’s odd, isn’t it? Strange choice of words – archaic. It’s why I took the case. “Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound.” Why say “hound”?”
“I don’t know!” Henry spluttered, “I ...”
“Actually, I’d better skip the coffee,” Sherlock cut in, “get straight to business.” He tapped the journal. “You said you thought your parents were using this for novel writing?”
“And in there it mentions Hellhounds?”
“I guess...” Henry said as he began sweeping the salt into the dustpan.
“Which can apparently be kept put by salt lines.”
Henry paused before straightening up and sighing.
“It’s just this thing from when I was a kid,” Henry sighed, “just a stupid reassurance tactic. When I got scared my parents would draw a salt circle around my bed and claim nothing could harm me.” He smiled sheepishly under the look that Sherlock gave him. “Just a kid’s thing.”
“Which you believed, and your parents seemed to as well,” the detective pointed out flipping through the journal, “Salt: Protects against Demons, Ghosts and Hellhounds.” He lifted the book and held it open to show the drawing of the creature. “The latter of which just so happens to resemble what you’ve been seeing.”
Henry blinked and walked over peering at the picture in apparent disbelief.
“Do you have a box by the way labelled K.J?”
Henry stared at him and then frowned thinking.
“Uhhh... I don’t know but... K.J. that’s Katherine James - my mother’s maiden name. Most of her stuff from when she came over here was sent on after she died... if we’ve still got it it’s probably in the basement.”
“Mind if I take a look?”
“Yeah... down the hall. But this journal...?”
“Oh I memorised what I needed to,” Sherlock said beaming entirely falsely, “I’ll be out of your way soon. Thanks very much.”
And with that he vanished out of the room leaving Henry standing clutching the leather with a look of bewildered, dazed incredulity on his face.
John was reading through his own notes later on the steps of the War Memorial when he spotted Sherlock walking towards him. He shifted uncomfortably as Sherlock grimaced stopping in front of him and glancing around awkwardly.
“Did you, er, get anywhere with Louise Mortimer.
“No.” He straightened up and began walking.
“Too bad. Did you get any information?”
John smiled briefly glancing over his shoulder to see the small smile tugging Sherlock’s lips but continued walking away.
“You being funny now?”
He could practically hear the grimace in his friend’s voice when he next spoke.
“Thought it might break the ice a bit.”
“Funny doesn’t suit you,” John said shaking his head, “I’d stick to ice.”
“John ...” Sherlock actually sounded pained.
“No, wait.” John stopped with a sigh and turned back to the detective. “What happened last night...” he began not quite meeting John’s eyes when he spoke. “Something happened to me; something I’ve not really experienced before-“
“Yes, you said: fear,” John reminded, rolling his eyes and striding off again. “Sherlock Holmes got scared. You said.” Sherlock grabbed his arm and spun him to face him again.
“No-no-no, it was more than that, John. It was doubt. I felt doubt.” His friend was gazing at him with an intense imploring stare that was willing him to understand. “I’ve always been able to trust my senses, the evidence of my own eyes, until last night.”
“You can’t actually believe that you saw some kind of monster.”
Sherlock gave a bitter, strange sort of grin that tugged the corner of his mouth. John raised his eyebrows in disbelief.
“You seriously believe there’s a monster out there?” He asked incredulously, “you?” He let out a small huff of laughter. “I thought out of you and your brother you were the ‘normal’ one.”
Sherlock scoffed and made some joking remark about not insulting him but internally he winced at the accusation in John’s tone.
“I don’t know,” he admitted after a short moment of silence, “but it wouldn’t be the strangest thing I’ve seen.”
“So you’ve got something to go on, then?” John asked turning on his heel, “good luck with that.”
He had only made it a few paces when Sherlock called back to him.
“Listen, what I said before, John. I meant it.” John frowned and turned back to Sherlock who looked oddly anxious, chewing his lip as he spoke. “I don’t have friends.” He paused again before speaking. I’ve just got one.”
John blinked at him as he took the statement in and then shook his head briefly.
As he walked off, Sherlock lowered his head despondently before snapping it up twice as fast. Of course! Brilliant!
“John?” No answer. “John!” He chased after his friend grinning widely. “You are amazing! You are fantastic!”
“Yes, all right!” John huffed clearly misunderstanding and not turning round. “You don’t have to overdo it.”
The taller man overtook him and began walking backwards, grinning like a loon and babbling off at his freight train speed.
“You’ve never been the most luminous of people, but as a conductor of light you are unbeatable!”
“Cheers.” Then he frowned. “... What?”
“-Some people who aren’t geniuses have an amazing ability to stimulate it in others!”
“Hang on,” John huffed finally coming to a halt, “you were saying “Sorry” a minute ago. Don’t spoil it. Go on: what have I done that’s so bloody stimulating?”
“My brother,” Sherlock explained, “remember him? Loves cake, keeps gaining weight ?”
The detective sighed as he failed to see the relevance.
“My brother who also just so happens to be the head of practically every military and secret service operation in-“ He cut off as his eyes locked on a familiar figure standing at the bar of the pub. John frowned as his friend gnashes his jaw and stormed into the pub.
Standing at the bar out of the regular suit that John had seen him in, Lestrade leaned against the bar in grey trousers and shirt, with a light jacket and sunglasses looking tanned.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Sherlock demanded and Lestrade gave an offended huff.
“Well, nice to see you too!” He snarked, “I’m on holiday, would you believe?”
“No.” Came the icy deadpan of a response. “I wouldn’t.”
Lestrade shuffled his feet and then grinned as John entered whipping off the sunglasses.
“Greg!” John greeted and Lestrade beamed at them.
“I heard you were in the area. What are you up to?” He asked far too casually as he took a sip of his beer. “You after this Hound of Hell like on the telly?”
“I’m waiting for an explanation, Inspector,” Sherlock said cooly, “Why are you here?”
“I’ve told you: I’m on holiday.”
“You’re brown as a nut!” The detective pointed out still scowling like a petulant child. “You’re clearly just back from your ‘holidays.’”
Lestrade shuffled his feet again trying, and failing, to appear nonchalant.
“Yeah, well I fancied another one,” he muttered glancing at the bar top.
“Oh, this is Mycroft, isn’t it?” Sherlock groaned.
“Of course it is! One mention of Baskerville and he sends down my handler to ... to spy on me incognito.” He barked out a laugh. “Is that why you’re calling yourself Greg?”
John paused and stared at Sherlock in disbelief.
“That’s his name.”
“Is it?” The detective actually frowned and Greg gave him an offended glare.
“Yes – if you’d ever bothered to find out. Look, I’m not your handler... and I don’t just do what your brother tells me.”
“Actually,” John said with a grin, “you could be just the man we want.”
“Well, I’ve not been idle, Sherlock.” John rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. “I think I might have found something.”
He held up the sales invoice from Undershaw Meat Supplies he had snagged when checking in.
“Here. Didn’t know if it was relevant; starting to look like it might be.” He gave a proud sort of smile and Sherlock gave him a surprised but impressed look. “That is an awful lot of meat for a vegetarian restaurant.”
“Excellent.” Sherlock beamed.
“Nice scary inspector from Scotland Yard who can put in a few calls might come in very handy.”
Sherlock glanced at Lestrade who gave a small shrug as John slapped his hand on the bell at the counter.
Clearly guilty, Sherlock thought as Lestrade flipped through the paperwork of the Undershaw invoices whilst Billy and Gary shuffled anxiously in their seats. The detective handed a mug of coffee to John who merely stared at the peace offering as though Sherlock had told him to grab the copper end of a live wire.
“What’s this?” He asked both confused and suspicious.
“Coffee. I made coffee.”
“You never make coffee.”
That wasn’t completely true, but Sherlock hadn’t made coffee since the incident where an eye had ended up in John’s mug.
“I just did,” Sherlock pointed out, “don’t you want it?”
His friend sighed with exasperation.
“You don’t have to keep apologising.”
The hurt expression made John sigh though and he took the cup and saucer grimacing at the taste. Too sweet.
“Mm. I don’t take sugar...”
There came the hurt expression again. John sighed and took a longer sip before placing the mug down as Lestrade finally reached his conclusion.
“These records go back nearly two months.” He looked at the Inn owners distastefully. “Is that when you had the idea, after the TV show went out?”
There was a quiet pause before Billy spoke up shakily.
“It’s me. It was me.” He turned to his partner with wide eyes. “I’m sorry, Gary – I couldn’t help it. I had a bacon sandwich at Cal’s wedding and one thing just led to another...”
Sherlock let out a disbelieving scoff, Lestrade looked equally incredulous shaking his head.
“Look, we were just trying to give things a bit of a boost, you know? A great big dog run wild up on the moor – it was heaven-sent. It was like us having our own Loch Ness Monster.”
“Where do you keep it?” Lestrade asked.
“We don’t anymore but it was in an old mineshaft. It’s not too far. It was all right there.”
“We couldn’t control the bloody thing,” Gary sighed, “it was vicious.” He swallowed. “And then, a few days or so ago we found it mauled up at the roadside.”
“The dog corpse,” John muttered.
“Yeah,” Billy nodded, “So it’s over. We don’t know what got it, we were going to call for the police...”
“It was just a joke, you know?” Gary cut in, face desperate.
“Yeah, hilarious.” Lestrade stood and glared down at them. “You’ve nearly driven a man out of his mind.”
He stormed out of the room with first John then, a minute later, Sherlock following behind.
“You know he’s actually pleased you’re here?” John began as Lestrade leaned against the bar sighing and rubbing his face with a hand. He lowered it to give the ex-army doctor a sceptical look.
“Secretly pleased.” John amended and Lestrade gave a wan sort of smile.
“Is he? That’s nice.” He shrugged a little. “I suppose he likes having all the same faces back together. Appeals to his ... his ...” he hesitated thinking for the right word.
“... Asperger’s?” John suggested as they stepped outside, he turned to see Sherlock scowling down at him.
Oops, John thought.
“So, you believe him about the dog‘s death?” Lestrade asked.
“No reason not to,” Sherlock pointed out, “John found a dog corpse up there last night.”
“Well, hopefully there’s no harm done.” The DI sighed. “Not quite sure what I’d charge him with anyway. I’ll have a word with the local Force and get the dog’s body cleared away at least.” He gave a small nod to them as he walked off. “Right, that’s that, then. Catch you later.” He beamed at them. “I’m enjoying this! It’s nice to get London out of your lungs!”
“But that wasn’t what you saw,” John pointed out to Sherlock once he had left, “that wasn’t just an ordinary dog.”
“No.” His friend’s gaze had become distant. “t was immense, had burning red eyes and it was smoking, John. Its whole body was like smoke.” He shuddered at the memory and continued striding across the car park. I’ve got a theory but I need to get ahold of my brother to test it.”
“Still the smoke hound isn’t the weirdest thing you’ve seen?” John prompted as the detective dug his phone out his pocket.
There was a short pause and Sherlock seemed to be deliberating something.
“When I was a child I saw something,” he said quietly, “something no-one else but two believed.”
He didn’t elaborate any further and instead hit speed dial on his phone raising it to his ear. There was a short pause before he began speaking with the utmost insincerity into it.
“Hello, brother dear. How are you?”
“What do you want, Sherlock?”
The detective grinned.
“Oh just a free pass of the B.M.O.L. floor of your top secret base- it looks fascinating.”
“Out of the question.”
Sherlock grumbled irritably and moved out of ear shot of John.
“I already know about the giant hound, Mycroft,” he said quietly and grinned when he heard a small intake of breath on the other end, “I’ve got details of the Hellhound and everything.”
“It’s bad enough that you breached Homeland Security by entering Baskerville,” Mycroft said sharply, though his voice was tight, “your breach has led to several government inquiries- both national and overseas- and has almost completely tarnished my position. Allowing you free pass of that particular floor of Baskerville is violation of Britain’s strictest security. As to the matter of the supposed “Hellhound”, I have absolutely no idea what fanciful notions you have concocted this time but you are not ten years old anymore.”
“I am well aware, however your tone contradicts your statement, Mike,” he added knowing it would aggravate him, “I’ve seen the Hellhound with my own eyes.”
“Well that really is preposterous.”
“Unusual emphasis there, brother, dear.”
There was silence from his brother.
“I will allow you re-entry into Baskerville, but not that floor,” Mycroft conceded at last, though he didn’t sound happy about it, “if only to prove that these delusions that you seem to be having are indeed delusions.”
And with that the phone line clicked off.
“I need to see Major Barrymore as soon as we get inside,” Sherlock told John as they passed through the security gates of Baskerville for the second time.
“Right,” John nodded.
“Which means you’ll have to start the search for the hound.”
“Okay,” John gave a resigned sigh.
“In the labs,” the detective added, “Stapleton’s first.” He smiled faintly. “Could be dangerous.”
His friend returned the smile momentarily.
“Oh, you know I’d love to,” Major Barrymore growled, “I’d love to give you unlimited access to this place bar the lowest level. “Why not?!”
“It’s a simple enough request, Major,” Sherlock said with a smug sort of pleasantness.
“I’ve never heard of anything so bizarre.”
Barrymore fixed the detective with a fierce glare.
“You’re to give me twenty-four hours,” Sherlock replied cooly, “it’s what I’ve ...” He paused momentarily, “... negotiated.”
“Not a second more. I may have to comply with this order but I don’t have to like it.”
He swung around to the computer on the desk behind him as the detective started to leave the office.
“I don’t know what you expect to find here anyway,” the Major added.
“Perhaps the truth,” Sherlock said coldly and Barrymore turned raising a sceptical eyebrow.
“About what?” The brow lowered in realisation. “Oh, I see. The big coat should have told me.” Sherlock frowned and Barrymore groaned. “You’re one of the conspiracy lot, aren’t you?” Sherlock rolled his eyes as he gave a nasty sort of grin. “Well, then, go ahead, seek them out: the monsters, the death rays, the aliens.”
“Have you got any of those?” Sherlock asked nonchalantly and it was Barrymore’s turn to roll his eyes, “oh, just wondering.”
“A couple. Crash landed here in the sixties.” The Major spoke with a voice coated in sarcasm. “We call them Abbott and Costello.” Defensive, Sherlock concluded eyeing him, hiding something. Barrymore turned to the computer. “Good luck, Mr Holmes.”
Henry sat in the sitting room holding a framed photograph in his hands. It was of both of his parents when he was little more than five years old. His mother, blue eyes and light brown hair that hid the ears that stuck out like his own grinned toothily at the camera. Henry was sat on her lap pouting at a pair of glasses he was examining in his fists. His father, blonde and brown eyed hugged his mother and son to him, a hunting rifle across his lap and an affectionate smile on his face. Henry gave a faint smile.
He didn’t want to sleep. But his eyes were dropping exhaustedly.
His eyes sealed. Red glowing eyes flashed in his mind.
He gasped, eyes flying open and an anguished cry escaped his lips.
“Oh, God!” he sobbed, the photograph hitting the floor with a crack as he buried his face in his hands and wept brokenly.
Chapter 8: The Men of Letters
John still didn’t understand why Sherlock insisted he wear the glasses. Before getting out of the car, the detective had handed them to him ordering him to wear them to pass incognito. John didn’t like them very much. They were too large for his face, so he had to keep pushing them up and, despite the glass being apparently clear, they gave his vision a weird blue tint. Sighing irritably, he stepped into the lab that they had first visited to see the last two scientists leaving. One of them turned off the main overhead lights as he went leaving the room lit only by a few arc lights on stands which are dotted around, and by the screens of some computers. Sighing at the irrational uneasiness that crept on him at the darkness, he went to the nearest door and swiped the reader.
... and instantly regretted his choice of room. It was freezing.
John sighed- Just his luck- and walked through the decontamination zone to the other door at the far end. Anyone? He tapped the glass. Nope. John pushed open the door which led into a divided room; an empty cage inside a sealed section; a desk scattered with more equipment than the kitchen table at Baker Street- though, admittedly, with more organisation- consisting of several folders, a phone, what appeared to be a dog whistle of some kind- John photographed that with his phone- and various other things that John couldn’t work out the use of. He glanced briefly at the dials and tubes that reminded him of something straight out of science fiction before the cold became too much and he backed out of the room.
His phone rang in his pocket.
“I hacked the system,” Sherlock announced sounding worryingly pleased with himself- John could picture the unbearably smug smile on his face.
“That wasn’t the plan,” John sighed, he could hardly be surprised.
There was a scoff from the other end of the phone line.
“Well they shouldn’t have made it so easy to hack then. I’ve upgraded your security card- should take ten minutes before Mycroft catches on and throws a hissy fit-“ John snorted at that mental imagery. “-which gives us ample time to get to the really interesting floor.”
“I swear if it’s just the bins...”
John didn’t finish the threat but Sherlock clearly didn’t catch it.
“Oh please. If it was just the bins why was Mycroft guarding it like it was his cake tin?”
The phone clicked off and John made his way to the lift sliding his card in the door. Sherlock was already inside the lift- smug smile that John wanted to punch plastered to his face- and snatched the card straight out of John’s hand to jam it in the secondary reader and hit the button for the floor marked B- B.M.O.L.
The light flashed green and the lift began its descent.
“What exactly are you hoping to find?” John asked after a few seconds silence.
“I’ve absolutely no idea.” And with a grin that was definitely fake, the loft doors opened and Sherlock stepped out onto the floor.
The floor was deserted and whitewashed just like the others, however there were a few key differences. The first being the weapons rack by one wall which had, John noted with a slight gulp, a grenade launcher. Secondly, the large wooden bookshelf- which Sherlock immediately bee-lined for like a bookworm-missile homing in on its target. And finally, there was a secondary large metal door at the back of the room.
“You try through there,” Sherlock said pointing at the door without bothering to look up from the book he had snagged and was reading in earnest fascination, “I’ll continue reading.”
John rolled his eyes and crossed the room.
“Don’t forget the glasses!”
John had pocketed them in the lift but put them on again- if only to get the detective to stop griping. He sighed at the blue tinge and stepped into the room. The room was a laboratory and John took off the glasses hooking them on his shirt front crossing the room. As he crossed the room an alarm blared and bright lights flashed in his eyes near blinding him.
He let out a sharp cry and tried to shield his eyes at the room being unbearably bright and the alarm unbearably loud drowning anything else out. John stumbled back towards the door fumbling with his keycard. He pulled the glasses on, the blue tint preferable to the agonisingly bright white of the laboratory.
“Come on,” he huffed desperately as his head began pounding.
“John?” Sherlock shouted from the other side of the door, “John! Hang on! Just-“
All at once the alarms died and the lights snapped off. The room was now under emergency lighting only, as far as John could make out, the image of the bright arc light was still painfully burned into his retinas.
“What the f...?” He fumbled for his pocket flashlight. It didn’t do much since he could barely see through the after-image.
“John?” Sherlock called that just came through his ringing ears, “Mycroft must have picked up the system that we weren’t supposed to be here. I’ll get the door open.”
How? John wanted to ask. Something rattled on the counter by the other end of the room.
“Hello?” He said wincing at how stupid that was.
John screwed his eyes shut for a moment in a failed attempt to clear the after-images. Pressing his fingers against his eyes underneath the glasses he opened them and peered around. His eyes landed on the cages covered in sheets and he pulled one back- a small dark... something... launched itself at the bar screeching and John stumbled back panicked.
What the fuck was that?!?!
He ran back to the door and swiped his card again.
“No, come on, come on!” He pleaded his voice desperate, “Sherlock!”
Still no answer. John dug into his pocket for his phone and punched speed dial 1 for Sherlock’s number. It rang. And kept ringing.
“No, you ...” he groaned, “don’t be ridiculous, pick up.”
John finally hit the end button and glared at the phone screen.
“Oh, dammit! Right.” So he was on his own.
There were no windows. Obviously. They were underground. There were a few more doors and he made his way towards the one marked with a gold plaque marked A. Ketch...
Or he would have done had he not heard the sound of claws skittering on the floor tiles. His mother had owned a cat and he recognised the noise.
Sherlock could not be right about this. He couldn’t.
There were no such things as super dogs, giant Hounds, or Hellhounds...
That’s what he kept telling himself as he crouched low and scurried between the lab’s benches towards a different door. With shaking hands he scrabbled for his card and then heard it.
The unmistakable sound of a growl.
Deep. Ominous. Animalistic.
All the air left John’s lungs as he scrabbled backwards away from the noise. He pointed his torch towards where the sound had emanated from. One of the cages covered in sheets.
He was frozen.
The torchlight picked up a slight movement. One of the sheets did not completely cover the cage it was draped over. There were a few centimetres where the end of the sheet swung over the floor... and in that gap, through the bars, a dark paw shifted.
John bolted into action scrambling for the nearest, definitely empty cage and slamming the door and bolting it with frantic trembling hands. As the growl finally fell silent he tugged the sheet down from inside the bars and backed himself as far away from the doors as possible.
It couldn’t be. It couldn’t.
He realised belatedly that he was shaking and holding his breath. John clapped a hand over his mouth to muffle his ragged breaths the pounding of his heart ringing in his ears.
There was an abrupt ringing noise and John scrabbled for his phone.
Shit, shit shitshitshit...
The growls has started again.
“It’s here,” he said softly, voice cracking with terror, “it’s in here with me.”
“Where are you?”
“Get me out, Sherlock. You have got to get me out.” He swallowed thickly. “Still in the room- lab. It’s a lab...”
Outside, the creature growled again. there was a loud whine and John realised it had come from him. He clasped his hand over his mouth.
“John? John?” Sherlock was speaking far too loudly.
“Now, Sherlock. Please.”
“All right. I managed to get up to a computer. I’ll get more access to your card. Keep talking.”
“I can’t,” John whispered, eyes scanning frantically over the sheet in front of him, “it’ll hear me.”
“Keep talking,” Sherlock repeated, firmer this time, “what are you seeing?” John didn’t answer. “John?” He asked louder and the creature snarled again.
“Yes, I’m here,” he snapped, voice still quiet as he struggled to control his breathing.
“What can you see?”
Swallowing, heart in throat, John crawled minutely closer to the cage door to where there was a gap in the fabric.
“I don’t know,” he whimpered, “I don’t know, but I can hear it, though.” Another growl. Louder. “Did you hear that?!” His breathing was losing control as the hysteria began setting in.
“Stay calm, stay calm. Can you see it?”
“No.” John muttered, “I can-“ the words died in his throat.
The sheet over ... over it’s cage... shifted as something breathed heavily against it and loosened. It must have been doing that for a while. One more breath...
The sheet slipped and John swallowed. Body numb.
Red eyes. Smoking. Jet black fur. Snarling with fangs as long as his forearm.
“I can see it,” he whispered pressing back against the back of the cage he was in. “It’s here.” The creature snarled, red eyes locking on him. “It’s here...”
A shadow moved past his sheet which was wrench off as the lights snapped on. Sherlock was suddenly in his face looking anxiously down at him. John was fixated on the... the.. the hound.
“Are you all right?” Sherlock asked and John gripped his arm as the creature paced its cage... how was Sherlock not seeing... not seeing it. “John ...” his eyes followed John’s line of sight.
Abruptly the glasses were wrenched off his face and the hound vanished.
“Jesus Christ ...” John swallowed and stumbled to his feet backing towards the metal door and stumbling through it gasping and retching. A hand landed on his shoulder and Sherlock peered at him concerned, glasses on his face now.
“It was the hound, Sherlock. It was in that cage. I swear it, Sherlock. It must...” his voice was becoming higher, “did ... did ... did you see it? You must have!”
Sherlock held out a placatory hand towards him.
“It’s all right. It’s okay now.”
“NO IT’S NOT!” John shouted, frantically, hysterically, “IT’S NOT OKAY!” Sherlock actually took an involuntary step backwards. “I saw it. I was wrong! Then it.. it.. vanished and....”
“It’s the glasses,” Sherlock explained.
“I don’t know how but it’s the glasses. You can only see it through these.” Sherlock, the bastard, actually had the audacity to grin as if ‘isn’t this neat?’ “I found them in a box in Henry’s house. Henry owns a pair just like them. That’s how I saw it, it’s how Henry has seen it.”
“Look here.” Sherlock pointed to an open book on a table by the bookshelf which he must have been reading when the alarms went off. “It’s a logbook.” He pointed to a sheet. “The British Men of Letters- whatever those are- acquired a pair of Hellhound. One in 1920 from America, one in 1978 from a ‘Fergus ‘Crowley’ Mcleoud’. His is in there The other was filed missing.”
John was barely keeping up as Sherlock flipped through the book.
“They did some experiments on them- tried to sway loyalty. Came up with a dog whistle of some kind-“
“Sherlock...” John tried.
“Can you walk?”
“’Course I can walk,” John’s voice sounded shaky and his tall friend strode off, book under his arm.
“Come on, then. It’s time to lay this ghost.”
Sherlock led them up to Stapleton’s laboratory scowling at his phone.
“Of course I was going to go in there, Mycroft,” he huffed, mostly to himself, “stop being a drama queen. Breach of National Security? SWAT Team. Oh please.” John stared at him incredulously as he pushed open the door to a room where Doctor Stapleton herself was examining a large white fluffy rabbit on a table in front of her.
“Oh. Back again?” she asked surprised, “what’s on your mind this time?”
“Murder, Doctor Stapleton,” Sherlock replied cooly, “refined, cold-blooded murder.” He hit the light switch by the door. If he hadn’t seen a demonic hound just mere minutes before, John’s eyes would have bugged when the rabbit glowed a bright green in the low light. “Will you tell little Kirsty what happened to Bluebell or shall I?” Sherlock asked unpleasantly as he switched the light on. Stapleton sighed.
“Okay. What do you want?”
“Access to some files in Barrymore’s office.”
As Sherlock rifled through the files with Stapleton’s borrowed key, Stapleton sighed and turned to John frowning at him. He was sat on a stool in the lab outside, head in hand, staring into space.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
He merely blinked at her.
“You look very peaky.”
“No, I’m all right,” he lied. He was still terrified, and confused, out of his mind.
“It was the GFP gene from a jellyfish, in case you’re interested,” Stapleton explained after a while.
“In the rabbits,” she explained and John gave a small nod in understanding, “Aequoria Victoria, if you really want to know.”
“Why?” John asked and she shrugged.
“Why not? We don’t ask questions like that here. It isn’t done.” There was a bang as Sherlock slammed a filing cabinet shut in frustration. “There was a mix-up, anyway. My daughter ended up with one of the lab specimens, so poor Bluebell had to go.”
“Your compassion’s overwhelming,” John said cynically.
“I know. I hate myself sometimes,” Stapleton replied mockingly.
“So, come on then.” John sighed. “You can trust me – I’m a doctor. What else have you got hidden away up here?”
“Listen: if you can imagine it, someone is probably doing it somewhere,” Stapleton sighed dismissively, “of course they are.”
“Yes, of course.” Stapleton smiled. “Dolly the Sheep, remember?”
“What about animals? Not sheep ... big animals.”
“Size isn’t a problem, not at all. The only limits are ethics and the law, and both those things can be ... very flexible.” She smiled. “But we don’t do cloning at Baskerville.”
There was a furious shout and something file shaped was thrown out of the office followed by a loud bang and cry of pain.
“It’s not there!” Sherlock shouted, voice livid.
“Jesus!” John cried, clutching his chest which had started pounding all over again.
“Nothing there! Doesn’t make any sense.”
John peered round the door to find Sherlock pacing furiously.
“What were you expecting to find?” Stapleton asked timidly as Sherlock brushed past and dropped into one of the lab stools.
“Anything on Hellhounds, the British Men of Letters.” Stapleton’s eyes bugged. “There’s no files downstairs I checked. All gone.”
“You’ve been to the Bunker?!” Stapleton demanded, eyes wide, “that’s- thats- insanely out of bounds!”
“Come On I must know something...” Sherlock was already ignoring her and turning his head repeatedly, “... something ... ah, something ... something buried deep.” Abruptly he turned to John and Stapleton and pointed imperiously at them. “Get out.”
“Get out,” Sherlock repeated, “I need to go to my mind palace.”
John actually let out a groan.
Stapleton was just confused looking between a deeply breathing Holmes and an exasperated Watson picking up his jacket.
“He’s not gonna be doing much talking for a while,” John sighed moving for the door, Stapleton following, “we may as well go.”
“His what?” Stapleton asked as Sherlock raised his hands.
“Oh, his mind palace,” John groaned waving a hand dismissively, “it’s a memory technique – a sort of mental map. You plot a map with a location – it doesn’t have to be a real place – and then you deposit memories there that ... Theoretically, you can never forget anything; all you have to do is find your way back to it.”
“So this imaginary location can be anything,” Stapleton began slowly, “a house or a street.”
“But he said “palace.” He said it was a palace.”
John sighed giving Stapleton a look.
“Yeah, well, he would, wouldn’t he?”
Sherlock ignored John and focused.
“Liberty.” Liberty In. Liberty In. Liberté. Liberty Bell. He scowled. Hound. Sherlock flicked that away with a scowl. Not yet. “In,” “Inn,” “India,” “Ingolstadt”, “Indium atomic number = 49”.... off topic. No. Focus. He flicked the thought away and returned to Hound. Bulldog. Mastiff. Great Dane. Red Setter. Red beard... FOCUS. “Hound Dog.” - Elvis Presley. The song started playing mentally and he angrily flicked it away. Hellhound. Pit bull. Demonic Pitbull. British. Men of Letters. Men. Man. Letters. Britannia. Britannica Airlines.. NO. FOCUS.
And suddenly it hit him.
American Men of Letters.
British Men of Letters.
Sherlock let the words sink in and then made his way to the door.
Henry was running. Night time. The moors. The hound howling behind him. Glasses falling off his face...
Glowing red eyes... snarling... scramming...
He swung round firing his gun blindly.
He was in his kitchen...
Louise Mortimer screamed and curled up on herself away from the bullet hole in the window just next to her. Henry stared at the gun in his hand fear being replaced with horror.
“Oh my God,” he whispered as Louise sobbed. “Oh my God. Oh my God. I am so ... I am so sorry. I am so sorry.”
And he ran.
Chapter 9: Showdown
When Stapleton and John reentered the room Sherlock pointed to the door.
“Yeah, I’m on it.”
The shorter man went and stood near the door as Stapleton opened up the computer at her desk and turned to Sherlock expectantly.
“Project HOUND,” Sherlock explained, “must have read about it and stored it away. An experiment in a facility in Liberty, Indiana. The British Men of Letters I remember too. I was in Mycroft’s office. He left the report on his desk.” John turned raising a sceptical eyebrow and Sherlock sighed. “Okay so when I say left I mean it was sealed in an envelope and when I say on his desk it was in a drawer.” John sighed and shook his head. “Oh come on, the files were just asking to be read.”
Stapleton finished typing in her password and brought up the search screen.
“H, O, U, N, D.”
The scientist obliged but when she hit enter a message popped up.
NO ACCESS: M.O.L CLASSIFIED.
And a request for an authorisation code.
“That’s as far as my access goes, I’m afraid,” Stapleton sighed.
“Well, there must be an override and password,” John pointed out and Stapleton shrugged.
“I imagine so, but that’d be Major Barrymore’s or one of the high ranking Men Of Letters.”
Sherlock gritted his teeth and spun round stalking back into Barrymore’s office muttering under his breath.
“Password, password, password.”
He flipped the light on and sat at the desk on the spinning chair glancing around. No post it notes. Not forgetful. No Diaries where it could be written. Something he knew he would remember.
“He sat here when he thought it up,” he murmured aloud and then turned to Stapleton hovering in the doorway. “Describe him to me.”
“You’ve seen him,” she pointed out and Sherlock sighed.
“But describe him.”
“Er, he’s a bloody martinet,” Stapleton began slowly glancing across at John who had come to stand beside her, “a throw-back, the sort of man they’d have sent into Suez.”
“Good, excellent.” Sherlock nodded curt,y and continued speaking mostly to himself. “Old-fashioned, traditionalist; not the sort that would use his children’s names as a password.” He gestured toward the children’s drawings pinned on the board above the desk for John’s undoubtably confused sake. “He loves his job; proud of it and this is work-related, so what’s at eye level?” He moved his eyes rapidly and then gestured right. “Books.” To his left. “Jane’s Defence Weekly – bound copies.” Then right. “Hannibal; Wellington; Rommel; Churchill’s “History of the English-Speaking Peoples” – all four volumes.” His eyes landed on a bronze bust on a shelf and he tilted his head getting to his feet. “Churchill – well, he’s fond of Churchill.” Possibly. He looked back to the bookcases again. “Copy of “The Downing Street Years”; one, two, three, four, five separate biographies of Thatcher.” His eyes landed on an old photograph on the desk of an army officer in uniform grinning proudly with his arm round his teenage son’s shoulder. “Mid 1980s at a guess. Father and son: Barrymore senior.” He examined the medals. “Medals: Distinguished Service Order...” he turned expectantly to John who frowned as he thought.
“That date?” A small pause. “I’d say Falklands veteran.”
“Right,” Sherlock nodded. “So Thatcher’s looking a more likely bet than Churchill.”
“So that’s the password?” Stapleton asked but Sherlock shook his head.
“No. With a man like Major Barrymore, only first name terms would do.” He typed out Margaret but the character count stopped at only seven letters. Narrowing his eyes, he pursed his lips until his brain came up with inspiration.
M A G G I E
Gritting his teeth he hit Enter and the computer, thankfully, gave a happy bleep sound.
OVERRIDE 300/421 ACCEPTED. Loading ...
And Sherlock began to read.
Project HOUND 1916-1920: American Men of Letters, Liberty, Indiana.
Owner (Form.): ? ?-1915
Owner (Curr.): A.M.O.L 1915-
Suggestion: TERMINATION [DENIED: Authorisation: Prof. A. Hess: B.M.O.L]
Suggestion (2): TRANSFERRAL (INT) [APPROVED: Authorisation: Prof. A. Hess: B.M.O.L]
The Hound itself was pictured below in a blue tinged photograph snarling viciously behind its cage. Labelled H-312.
There was evidence below of the aftermath of its attacks across America before the American Men of Letters had finally tracked it and brought it to Arizona.
“Hound,” Stapleton murmured at the picture as she drew back at the monstrous creature, “there’s been all sorts of rumours as to what the M.O.L have been doing but...” her voice trailed off as the images of the known victims loaded.
“Blood-brain,” “Gross cranial trauma,” “Dangerous acceleration,” “Multiple attacks”, “Severe Internal Haemorrhaging”, “Severe Lacerations”, “Paranoia”, “Hallucinations”...
- Leonard Hansen: 28, Pontiac, Illinois. [10 year Contract]
- Jack O‘Mara: 45, Washington D.C., Washington State [12 year contract]
- Mary Uslowski: 31, Lebanon, Kansas. [10 year Contract]
- Rick Nader: 67, Austin, Texas. [10 Year Contract]
- Elaine Dyson: 33, Henderson, Nevada [10 year Contract] see files>
<click to see files>
Men of Letters
- George Henry Winchester 1888-1917
- David James Corbett 1879-1918
<click to see files>
“Jesus,” John whispered as image after image loaded of mutilated bodies, blood soaked carpets and faces savaged beyond recognition.
The final photographs were less gory: the American Team responsible for bringing the Hellhound in in 1915, the British group who had received the Hound in 1920 and a secondary report from the British investigation that continued up until 1986 with several several CIA scientists who had been a part of the project.
“Project HOUND,” Sherlock read aloud, “a Hellhound discovered in America was tested to see if it could be used as a weapon against other Supernatural forces by the Men of Letters. Being hunted by one triggered hallucinations, paranoia in any species. They thought they could use that to disorientate the enemy but it was vicious uncontrollable. The experiment was deemed a failure, two Men of Letters were killed during the experiment- succeeded by their younger brother and son respectively... British investigation continued from 1920 until 1986 with scientists from CIA but deemed it a failure. Uncontrollable animal. They closed the case.”
“Because of what it did to people,” Stapleton whispered.
“And when they tried to use it what it did to them.”
“But The Men Of Letters have been doing it again – carrying on the experiments?”
“Not on record, but someone could have been, perhaps, for the last twenty years.”
John nodded at the screen at the picture of the scientists in ‘86 with their names beneath.
“Those names mean anything to you?” He asked and Stapleton shook her head.
“No, not a thing.”
“Five principal scientists, twenty years ago...” Sherlock murmured as he zoomed in on the scientists- some in lab coats and suits and unsmiling, some wearing snarling wolf t-shirts with HOUND printed at the bottom and grinning wildly at the camera. “Maybe our friend’s somewhere in the back of the picture – someone who was old enough to be there at the time of the experiments in 1986 ...” he paused at a picture of a curly haired man who’s face he definitely recognised grinning broadly and standing with the CIA scientists. “Maybe somebody who says “cell phone” because of time spent in America. You remember, John?”
“Mm-hm,” John said as the memory hit him too of one Bob Frankland handing them his phone number.
“He gave us his number in case we needed him.”
“Oh my God,” Stapleton breathed as she stared at the picture, “Bob Frankland. But Bob doesn’t even work on ... I mean, he’s a virologist. This was animals, the Supernatural and Men of Letters!”
“It’s where he started, though...” Sherlock pointed out, Frankland couldn’t be very old in the photograph, “and he’s never lost the certainty, the obsession that that the Hellhounds really could work. Nice of him to give us his number.” He pulled the paper from his pocket and began dialling. “Let’s arrange a little meeting.”
As he left the room to continue his call John squinted at the photograph. Liberty, Indiana was printed underneath HOUND the location of the first experiments. John supposed it must have been a testament to the first group to begin the project. This Supernatural stuff was difficult to wrap his head round but, as was the case with many of the cases he worked with Sherlock, he tended to just roll with it. If he hadn’t seen a hound with his own eyes he would never have believed half of this. John was surprised when his own phone began to ring with a number he didn’t recognise.
“Hello?” He was greeted only by the sound of a woman crying. “Who’s this?”
“You’ve got to find Henry,” Louise Mortimer answered through her sobs.
John turned to Sherlock who was lowering his phone.
“It’s Louise Mortimer. Louise, what’s wrong?”
“Henry was ... was remembering; then ... he tried ... “ she cut off with a shaky gasp, “he’s got a gun. He went for the gun and tried to ...”
“What?” John demanded.
“He’s gone. You’ve got to stop him. I don’t know what he might do.”
“Where-where are you?”
“His house. I’m okay, I’m okay.”
“Right: stay there. We’ll get someone to you, okay?”
Lowering his phone, he began to text.
“Henry?” Sherlock prompted.
“He’s attacked her,” John explained.
Sherlock hit the speed dial on his phone.
“There’s only one place he’ll go to: back to where it all started.” He raised the phone to his ear. “Lestrade. Get to the Hollow. ... Dewer’s Hollow, now. And bring a gun and rock salt. I’ll get the rest.”
They found Henry not forty five minutes later in the Hollow with a gun pressed inside his mouth.
“No, Henry, no!” Sherlock shouted letting the beg on his shoulder slide off into the Hollow and Henry’s head snapped towards them as he stumbled backwards waving the gun vaguely in their direction, “No!”
“Get back,” Henry screamed hysterically, his voice high pitches and eyes far too bright, “get– get away from me!”
Hallucinations and paranoia... Sherlock recalled, symptoms of being pursued by a Hellhound. Clearly they were starting to catch up with Henry.
“Easy, Henry,” John said gently and Sherlock tried not to think about how John was so good at talking someone down with a gun, “easy. Just relax.”
“I know what I am!” Henry cried, eyes flicking between them, “I know what I tried to do!”
“Just put the gun down. It’s okay.”
“No, no,” Henry sobbed, his voice anguished and cracking as he spoke, “I know what I am!”
“Yes, I’m sure you do, Henry,” Sherlock said calmly, “it’s all been explained to you, hasn’t it – explained very carefully.”
That made Henry paused and he swayed on the spot staring at the detective confused.
“Someone needed to keep you quiet,” Sherlock said gently, “there was someone else there that night. Remember now, Henry. You’ve got to remember what happened here when you were a little boy.”
Henry’s gun hand began to droop much to their relief but that shattered when he raised it again his face frantic as he tried to understand.
“It had got my dad – the hound. I thought ...” The control snapped again and he screamed in anguish. “Oh Je... oh Jesus, I don’t – I don’t know any more!” He shoved the barrel in his mouth again and John lurched forward.
“No, Henry! Henry, for God’s sake!”
“Henry, remember. “Liberty In.”,” Sherlock said urgently, “two words; two words a frightened little boy saw here twenty years ago.”
Henry began to calm a little but he still remained hunched over with the gun’s muzzle against his mouth. Better than before.
“You’d started to piece things together, remember what really happened here that night. There wasn’t just an animal here, was there, Henry?”
Slowly Henry straightened up.
“Not just a monster.” And when Henry looked at him he explained. “A man. Your father must have tried to help you escape.”
Henry’s eyes widened.
“Henry, put these on and run!” his father pushed the glasses he always wore onto his son’s face and shoved him down behind the log. In a new blue tinge Henry saw the snarling hound crouched in front of them. “Run!”
There was a howl and the creature pounced. His father was dragged back by the creature that tore at his body whilst Henry cowered behind the rock. Red glowing eyes and savage teeth ripping into flesh... Henry stumbled back up the slope and as the creature let out a howl... he saw a man step from the trees in a dark balaclava holding a dog whilst between his teeth... a wolf on the front of his shirt... HOUND... Liberty, Indiana...
“You couldn’t cope,” Sherlock said to a gaping, astonished Henry who had finally lowered the gun to shocked to be hysterical, “you were just a child, so you couldn’t be expected to remember everything. But then you did start to remember, so you had to be stopped; driven out of your mind so that no-one would believe a word that you said. The Hellhound induces Paranoia through Hallucinations. Someone’s been keeping it around you to drive you mad. It does exist Henry but it can be stopped. You’re not mad.” Henry let out a tearful choking sound and John held out his hand to Henry encouragingly.
The three men turned to see Lestrade making his way towards them as John gently prised the gun from Henry’s fingers.
“So we saw it: the hound, last night. We s... we, we, we did, we saw ...”
“Yeah the Hellhound was leaving the footprints, scaring witnesses. Driving people away from learning what was really going on. Fear and stimulus; that’s how it works.” Sherlock rummaged in the bag and pulled out several pairs of glasses including one for Lestrade. “I’ve read your parents’ notes in their journal. If the man I question shows up I expect he’ll be bringing company. I suggest we put these on.”
Lestrade stared in confusion but obliged and the four men put the glasses on.
As if on cue there was a loud snarl and three sets of torches swivelled up to where the Hound was crouched low to the ground snarling.
“Sherlock ...” John said nervously as Henry turned away horrified in panic hyperventilating again.
“No. No, no, no, no!”
He backed away and Sherlock tried simultaneously to hold out a calming hand towards him while keeping his own torch shining up towards the creature above them.
“Henry, Henry ...”
The creature continued to slink along the rim of the Hollow as Henry began to scream in abject terror. Red eyes glared down fiercely.
“Shit!” Lestrade managed to say after he had finally reclaimed his vocal chords staring in slack jawed horror.
The hound raised its head and let out a long terrifying howl.
John stared at it as it stopped again, ears twitching, its red glowing eyes clearly visible as it opened its mouth and reveal a mouthful of long pointed fangs Its snarl is completely terrifying. Henry had fallen silent and was staring with a sense of acceptance towards his potential demise.
“The plan?!” John finally managed to ask as Sherlock scanned the tree line.
“Salt, it can‘t touch salt,” the detective answered, “I found rock salt shells and a shotgun in Henry’s house, I hope you don’t mind but I borrowed them.” John pulled out the sawn off shotgun and rock salt shells in disbelief.
He was about to ask just how the hell a condiment was supposed to keep back the creature from Hell when someone wearing a balaclava stepped from the trees and began making his way through the mist towards them. Sherlock rushed over as the man blew a dog whistle- the Hellhound growling behind him. The detective ripped off the mask only to stare in horror at the face of James Moriarty grinning insanely at him.
“No!” He whispered gripping the lapels of the man’s jacket.
Jim’s expression became abruptly intense and murderous... the. His head began snapping and flailing bout distortion and flickering too quickly from Sherlock to keep up with. Sherlock clutched his head squeezing his eyes shut against the sheer insanity in front of him as the face twisted into a snarling skeleton similar to the Hound’s own face.
“It’s not you!” Sherlock cried frantically, “you’re not here!”
Furious, he grabbed the lapels of the jacket and head butted Moriarty who suddenly changed to Bob Frankland wearing his own glasses. The whistle he had been clutching was gone and his eyes searched desperately for it on the ground. The Hound snarled as if winding itself up to attack and Frankland thrust a short silver blade towards it panicked.
“For God’s sake, kill it! Kill it!” Frankland shouted, his control of the beast lost.
A loud bang resounded as John stared in shock as the Hellhound howled And recoiled from the salt explosion against its side. Sherlock snatched the knife from Frankland and moved forward unsure how to proceed as the creature snapped at him.
John continued firing on the creature and Sherlock moved forward throwing the knife with clumsy but true accuracy where it lodged in the creature’s side. It howled one more time, this time in pain, before collapsing.
“Look at it, Henry, it’s over,” Sherlock said calmly but firmly as he pulled the young man over regardless of the protests, “Come on, look at it! You need to see it’s over.”
Henry stared at the dead creature numbly. Lestrade looked down at the creature with such a look of shock as he tried to understand just what was happening. Henry turned back to Frankland his face twisting with fury.
“You bastard...” he hissed and then hurled himself at Frankland screaming with rage, “you bastard!”
John and Lestrade lunged for the youn man pulling him back as he screamed and struggled to wrap his hands round the neck of his father’s killer.
“Twenty years!” he screamed, “twenty years of my life making no sense! Why didn’t you just kill me?!”
“Because dead men get listened to,” Sherlock explained a large grin growing on his face, “he needed to do more than kill you. He had to discredit every word you ever said about your parents, and he had the means with the Men of Letters. Hellhounds, monsters, secret societies?!” He spun round gleefully laughing with delight. “Oh, this case, Henry! Thank you. It’s been brilliant!”
“Sherlock ...” John said warningly and Sherlock blinked at him.
John gave him a pointed exasperated look.
Sherlock looked between Henry’s ragged breathing, Lestrade’s confused parlour and John’s exasperation.
“No, no, it’s – it’s okay,” Henry said, quietly to begin with but getting louder,
“it’s fine, because this means ...” he started towards Frankland with John following ready to hold him back if necessary. “... this means that my parents were right.” Frankland scrabbled up onto his knees as Henry was held back. “My Dad found something out, didn’t he, and that’s why you killed him – because he was right, and he’d found you right in the middle of an experiment!”
Frankland climbed to his feet and opened his mouth to speak....
A snarl cut him off.
The Hellhound was still alive whining in pain. Lestrade was the one who rushed forward this time and repeatedly stabbed it until they were sure it was dead. In the reawakened franticness, Frankland ran for it.
“Frankland!” Sherlock shouted chasing after him, John hot on his heels and Henry and Lestrade a little behind. “Frankland! It’s no use, Frankland!”
Frankland ignored him and scrabbled over a barbed wire fence running a few paces before screeching to a halt. There was little time to ask why for merely a second later an explosion ripped through the night lighting up the area and fire balling high above the tree line. Henry slumped back against a tree. The other three merely stared at the fire licking across the grass.
“Now it’s over,” Sherlock sighed.
Chapter 10: The Moment Of Truth
John smiled happily as Billy placed the, sadly, vegetarian equivalent of a full English breakfast in front of him on the outside table. He thanked him and glanced over to Sherlock who was approaching with two steaming white mugs and a pensive look on his face.
“You okay?” John asked frowning, “I mean this whole...” he sighed, “‘Hellhound Thing is a bit difficult to wrap your head round. I’m surprised I’m not freaking out more but I reckon it’s going to come on eventually.”
“There’s a train that leaves in half an hour,” Sherlock said when he had finished sitting down and sullenly taking a drink from his mug.
”Sorry, what do trains have to do with Hellhounds?”
Sherlock blew out an unhappy breath.
”13 missed calls from Mycroft,” he explained, “four from unregistered numbers and a total of 36 texts. He’s going to come down here himself.”
”... Ah.” John said lowering his fork.
”He stopped texting around 2am this morning. The first train from London to here left at 6am. It’s just gone 10. He’ll be here soon.” Sherlock grumbled and took another sip. “Keeps ranting about Government Secrecy and how he’s had to deal with a ‘National Crisis’-“ John’s eyes bugged a little. “Or something that we supposedly caused.”
“Er... that’s not good,” John said unnecessarily, “and wait you think the best option is to just go back home?”
”Okay so the British Men of Letters was a wheeny bit more top secret than usual...”
”Jesus Sherlock.” He hissed. “You know we could be arrested!”
”Oh I’d have Mycroft bail us out,” the detective shrugged.
”The same Mycroft who sounds incredibly pissed odd with you?”
A small pause.
”I’ll buy him a cake.”
”Or do you think a trifle might be better?”
”What?” He snapped.
John’s face had turned sheepish and he was gripping the knife with white knuckles. Sherlock turned and watched as his brother stepped out of a black SUV, face pinched and fuming, grip on the umbrella tighter than John was clutching his knife.
”Hello, brother,” Sherlock said putting on a big false smile, “how is the diet going?”
”Sherlock Holmes,” his brother said coldly, face red with fury, “Doctor Watson.” His steely gaze landed on John who thought he would combust on the spot, “Get. In. The. Car.”
“You seem a bit tense. I guess that means it’s going badly. Cake too tempting?”
”Sherlock you do not seem to be understanding me. When I say “Get in the Car” It is not a request and unless you do so another SUV filled with armed police will be arriving ready to escort you to military prison.”
John and Sherlock exchanged glances and the smile dropped from the detective’s face. He got to his feet and glared at his brother.
”You can’t lie to us Mycroft. We’ve seen your hairy little pet.”
Mycroft pointed to the car without a word and John’s began the awkward shuffle towards it. Anthea was sat in the back texting again and a driver was in the front seat. After a few petulant seconds, Sherlock joined him sulking with his coat collar pulled up. Mycroft climbed into the front passenger seat and the car sped away.
Several hours later and Mycroft sat the two of them in front of his office desk. An older woman with light brown hair in a beehive and white suit sat in a chair and two armed guards stood by the door. John shuffled nervously. Sherlock just looked bored.
Several folders were stacked on the desk that Mycroft sat behind gaze still as furious as it had been in Dartmoor. Clearly the long drive had not cooled him off in any way.
”Can I just apologise,” John began, “for the um-“
”Complete and total breach of British National Security?” Mycroft finished cooly. “I think that apologies are a little redundant.” He flipped open a binder. “So, despite my specific instructions you broke in to the restricted areas of Baskerville on two occasions. The maximum sentence for that would be life in a military prison.” John gulped. Sherlock shrugged.
”But we’re not in military prison, so what are we doing here?”
Mycroft smiled nastily.
”How very observant of you little brother. But one word from me and you will both be out of that door and into the back of transits vans heading to aforementioned military prison before you can say “Hellhound”.” When the two men remained silent, Mycroft sighed and closed his file raising it. “This is the current documentation of your Dartmoor escapades which I am prepared to burn.”
”In exchange for what.”
The elder Holmes smiled again and pushed two different files towards them which were picked up.
”The Men of Letters were founded over a hundred years ago to deal with Supernatural threats across the World. As it stands, the British Men of Letters is the only remaining branch operation at full capacity.”
”Sorry,” John cut in shaking his head, “Supernatural Threats? Not just Hellhounds. Like...” he wet his lips slightly, “ghosts and vampires and... things?”
”And a million more species, yes. A number of sigils are placed strategically around docks and airports so any creature that tries to enter this country is catalogued and dealt with as quickly as possible.”
”And the Hellhounds In Baskerville?” Sherlock pointed out.
”The dog whistles developed have proven most useful in controlling them. Frankland and the Knight case was... an unfortunate incident. However thanks to you that particular Hellhound has been put down.”
”You still haven’t told us what you want us to do,” Sherlock said flatly.
”Open your files.”
They did so. Two pictures of prisoners were there. One with long dark hair and a flat expression on his face, the other shorter and lighter haired pouting at the camera as if he were at a fashion shoot rather than a prison.
”Dean and Samuel Winchester,” Mycroft explained, “CIA and FBI’s Most Wanted for three consecutive years thought to have died on multiple occasions.”
”All but a few. Dean Winchester was confirmed dead after being torn about by Hellhounds in 2008. Now he’s alive again and has been for several years. The two of them are Hunters of Supernatural creatures in America- far less efficient with the Men of Letters- and the two of them have been at the centre of both the Apocalypse and several catastrophic Supernatural events.”
”Sorry, the Apocalypse?!” John spluttered, “that’s not...” he looked st Mycroft’s stony serious face, “the Biblical Apocalypse? With Demons and Angels?”
“Angels and God are a construct created by a disillusioned race to justify their misfortunes,” Sherlock said closing his file with a snap. “The Winchesters however, I can see they’ve been areested several times charged with murder, kidnapping, forgery, grave robbing, desecration of burial grounds and arson. What do you want me to do about it?”
”Merely survey them. Make sure they don’t cause another world ending event.”
“Don’t you have a secret service for that?”
”Any efforts by the CIA or FBI to apprehend them have ended with the Winchesters being announced as dead before popping up again some time later or escaping.”
Sherlock snorted with laughter which earned him another withering stare from his sibling.
”So you want us to go out to America,” Sherlock began, “for how long exactly?”
”Oh around two months. We’ll give you a month to prepare for your trip.” Mycroft closed up his file. “Of course failure to comply will result in-“
”The pair of us being carted off to military prison,” Sherlock finished with an eye roll, “You don’t have to labour the point.” The detective stood up. “This better not be boring.”
”You’ll be surrounded by Supernatural monsters Sherlock I imagine it’s at least a seven.”
Sherlock pulled a face and walked towards the door John hastening to follow him. Then the detective paused and turned back.
”I don’t suppose a blue box ever came up.”
”Get out of my office, brother. I have a meeting to go to.”
Sherlock scoffed but went outside, John hot on his heels.
”So let me get this straight,” John said clearly struggling, “ghosts and monsters are real, the Apocalypse happened which we somehow missed and we have to track some guys who keep coming back from the dead in order to avoid military prison?!”
”Well it just sounds ridiculous when you put it like that.”
”And what did you mean a blue box?!”
”We have a month before we have to go,” Sherlock said completely ignoring him, “I’ve been offered to come and visit an old acquaintance which should take up our meantime how does that sound?”
And despite his questioning. John couldn’t get a single answer out of him about blue boxes or how he felt about the stuff of Fiction being apparently part of every day life.
Mycroft stared through at the man sitting quietly and utterly still, eyes boring holes into the one way window of his cell.
A while later and the door wasn’t opened by a man in a suit.
“All right,” he said quietly, “let him go.”
Jim Moriarty stood up and casually strolled out of his cell. The only evidence of his being there the word Sherlock carved and scratched all over the walls.
Chapter 11: Old Friends
SUB: Upcoming Visitation
Thank you for giving me your email address. Having read your comment on my blog, I would like to accept your proposal for a visit to Leadworth. John has also accepted the invitation, he has expressed interest in meeting you.
There is ample accomodation at a local hotel which should be of use to us. Which date would be most suitable to you? It will have to be within the month since a case has called us abroad and could be as long as two months.
So good to hear from you. :D (Still using big words, huh? XD)
Is the 22nd alright for you? You can stay for the week? I’m looking forward to meeting John too, did you tell him I like the Aluminium Crutch case? And hotels? Honestly Sherlock I live in a three storey house by myself with loads of spare rooms I’m sure I can spare you the trouble of paying accomodation fees. :)
P.S. Don’t call me Amelia XD
SUB: Upcoming Visitation
I will stop calling you Amelia once you stop calling me Sher. It’s a ridiculous nickname. I’ve never liked nicknames. The 22nd - 27th fits our schedule just fine. I have informed John of your enjoyment of his blog- he is now acting quite smug.
Thank you for sparing us the accomodation fees.
P.S. Using formal language has never hurt anyone as far as I can recall.
Just got your email. It’s a date! I’ll get some rooms set up for you!
But Sher is such a cute nickname!
SUB: Hi Amy, it’s John!
I borrowed Sherlock’s laptop. He’s always stealing mine I’m sure he won’t mind. Thank you for what you said about the Aluminium Crutch case it was totally bonkers when it happened XD Sherlock’s looking forward to seeing you, he doesn’t shut up about it.
It will truly be a pleasure to meet you,
SUB: Upcoming Visitation
Please ignore John. And I am not ‘cute’.
It seemed like barely any time at all before the taxi was pulling up outside Amy’s three storey home, the woman herself appearing at the door and grinning. Sherlock was honestly glad to get away from Baker Street. Ever since John had blabbed to Mrs Hudson, the landlady had insufferably and repeatedly inquired if Amelia was Sherlock’s girlfriend. When he saw her he blinked in surprise. Amelia had changed quite a bit. Her hair was longer, well past her shoulders rather than the bob she had had as a child. But the impish look of glee was still on her face.
She grinned delightedly at them.
Sherlock stretched out his hand for her to shake only to be pulled into a tight hug.
“Um...” he sighed and awkwardly patted his old friend on the back, “Hi.”
”Ah, you never were a hugger,” Amy snorted pulling back, eyes lighting up as she looked past him, “you must be John!”
John switched his bag to hit other hand as Amy shook his hand enthusiastically.
“Pleasure to meet you, Sherlock hasn’t shut up about-“
”Oh, stop,” Sherlock groaned and Amy laughed.
“Still easily embarrassed? I’ll remember that. Come in, come in.”
She grabbed one of the suitcases and lugged it inside despite John’s insistence that he and Sherlock could manage it just fine. Sherlock peered around the house a slight smile tugging his lips. It had barely changed from memory.
”So you knew Sherlock when you were kids?” John prompted and Amy nodded.
”Yeah, I was eight, he was... ten?”
”But we were next door neighbours for a while.”
”How are Mels and Rory?”
John blinked before he realised that Sherlock didn’t really care and was just making conversation.
”Rory’s good, he’s a nurse down at The Royal Leadworth hospital. Mels is...” she hesitated, “well once she ended up in prison for stealing a bus and driving it through a botanical garden.” Sherlock snorted. “I haven’t seen her in a while. But one of the last times I saw her she got me and Rory together so she hasn’t been entirely a pain.” A wicked grin suddenly appeared on Amy’s face. “I think I’ve got some pictures upstairs from one of the school plays all four of us were in.”
John glanced at Sherlock who looked marginally horrified.
”You do?” John asked with a grin just as Sherlock said: “Please, no.”
Amy walked towards the staircase before the detective could stop her, John grinned.
”He had such curly hair,” Amy called down, “like way curlier than now.”
”I find that hard to believe,” John called back and he heard Amy’s cackle of ascending laughter.
”She hasn’t changed.”
”She’s your... friend?” John said slowly and Sherlock frowned.
”Yes..? Your point being?”
”Nothing.” John grinned. “I just thought that you, you know, had to actually interact with humans to make friends.”
Sherlock glared and then frowned as a sound like rapidly approaching thunder sounded.
”Do you hear that?” He asked.
”The weather didn’t say anything about stormy weather...”
“Amelia?!” a voice that rang a distant bell in Sherlock’s memory shouted from outside, he walked to the window and stared, in utter disbelief at the blue telephone box and the raggedy Doctor, who looked no older than he had all those years ago- wearing the same clothes- ran into the house. “Amelia, are you all right? Are you there?”
Footsteps resounded on the staircase as he went upstairs.
“Prisoner Zero's here. Prisoner Zero is here!” The Doctor was shouting from upstairs and Sherlock stared at a very confused John in shock, “Prisoner Zero is here! Do you understand me? Prisoner Zero is-“
There a sharp crack followed by a loud thud.
Sherlock snapped himself out of his daze to see Amelia standing over the Doctor with wide eyes clutching a cricket bat.
”That can’t...” Sherlock began
”You hit him with a cricket bat?!” John cried bending down to check the unconscious man was alright.
”I panicked!” She huffed defensively, “and that’s...” she looked at him, “that’s the Doctor.” She shook her head dropping the bat and closin her eyes. “But it cant be because he wasn’t real.”
”Well clearly he is,” Sherlock huffed, “he hasn’t aged at all.”
”You know him?” John asked from where he was knelt, “and what do you mean “the Doctor”? Doctor who?”