“And you say you passed them in the alley at what time?” Sherlock Holmes asked in a clipped voice. His eyes raked over the curvaceous barmaid and known ‘unsavory’ woman named Elizabeth Evans. A fringe of dark brown curls framed her round, pensive face and as she brought an index finger to tap against her chin he noticed that a sleek emerald ring glinted faintly in the candlelight. No doubt it was a gift from one of her wealthier clientele, which meant that Miss Evans had a career outside of being a barmaid.
“Aye, ‘twasn’t too late in the evenin’. Prayhaps about ten o’clock, shortly before the bells rung in the city square,” she answered under heavy-lidded eyes that flickered towards him with flirtatious intent.
Sherlock did not reciprocate her advances and instead drummed his fingertips in agitation on the worn wooden table. “So at ten o’clock you saw him engage in a salacious manner with a raven-haired beauty in the street before she literally picked him up, cradled him like a newborn babe, and streaked away into the night?” he surmised in a brooding tone, more so saying it out loud as he processed the unlikely scenario than asking for her confirmation.
“Yes sir. She was as thin as a wraith but strong as an ox, that one,” Miss Evans verified with a sharp nod.
“Indeed.” Sherlock tipped his hat to the woman. “Thank you Miss Evans, your words have been helpful.”
“Oh, anytime Mr. Holmes,” she said with a salacious leer that had no chance of affecting him at the moment. For as long as his Watson was missing, Sherlock had nothing else on his mind but locating his closest friend.
Three days and four nights had passed since the disappearance of Watson, and Sherlock was drinking gin straight out of the bottle as he processed the facts of the case. Lounging in his room with their dog at their side, he mentally ticked off what he had discovered thus far in his investigation.
One: Doctor John Watson had been at a party on Regency Street where he left at nine-thirty in the evening.
Two: Watson was last seen around ten o’clock in the arms of a “raven-haired beauty” where he consorted in a public display of affection and then was carried off in her arms. Even more unsettling was that no one recognized this woman and Sherlock knew that the propriety of his friend would never allow for strange canoodlings in the street with a random woman.
Three: There had been a dozen strange disappearances or murders in the last two weeks. Of those, half had been found drained of blood with their throat slashed with what appeared to be a sharp blade. Yet, on at least one body Sherlock had observed two small puncture wounds that had also been set in the neck before a knife blow made them almost impossible to notice.
Four: These violent disturbances are eerily similar to reports from several months ago to towns in Ireland and a year ago to a similar spree that occurred in the north of Spain.
Five: There was no trace of evidence leading to the identities of any of the killers and he, Sherlock Holmes, was stumped.
This led Sherlock to theorize that his dear Watson may have been taken by the same lethal criminals who had been behind the other killings in the city. Now what he needed to do was find these criminals – and hopefully find Watson there.
He stalked over to the map of London on the wall and peered at the pins he had stuck to mark the locations of the disappearances and murders. They were scattered across the city and he could deduct no possible connection between them. Hmm. Cocking his head to the side he stared at the dots until his eyes blurred.
Indeed, the times of the crimes also made no sense. Some occurred shortly after the sun set and others at random intervals throughout the night. It was to be noted that all the crimes occurred at night, yet it was not too unusual for such crimes to occur under the cover of darkness.
Although…Hmmm…As his mind thought of the times of the murders he did start to perceive a pattern…All crimes that occurred shortly after sunset were clustered together on the outside of town near Shoreditch. That led him to immediately conclude that the perpetrators must be residing near there; for they appeared too impatient to wait long to commit their heinous acts upon sunset.
Clucking his tongue, he glanced at the clock. It was only early evening and still hours to go until sunset. If he could discover their hiding place beforehand then lives could be saved – and hopefully Watson’s would be one of them.
After talking to dozens people in the streets about the strange disturbances, Sherlock finally got a hit.
“If you want to know about strange people, sir, you best ask my neighbors,” the wiry youth with spectacles opined. “In the last month since they’ve moved her, my mum and I have only seen them at night.”
“At night?” Sherlock inquired with interest. “And are they new neighbors, lad?”
“Aye, sir. A man and two women. They live in the flat across from ours.”
Interesting. Very interesting. Quickly Sherlock obtained the address from the boy and went in march of his new destination.
The building looked like any other – an older, dilapidated building but it was well-constructed – but that was to be expected. Clearly these people were attempting to stay inconspicuous and this certainly was a prime location. As he marched into the brick building he pondered what to do once he got there. Clearly Watson was a priority and any more time wasted to find the inept local police could be wasteful. Already, his travels and research had prolonged his desired arrival time, for the sun had set not five minutes ago.
Taking a deep breath and fingering his revolver in his pocket, Sherlock knocked on the door. He heard a high pitched giggle that made him think of a child and the door opened to showcase a broad-shouldered man with long shaggy hair and a sardonic smile.
The man glanced back into the room and let out a low chuckle. “Now this is what I like about the homeland,” he said in an Irish brogue. “The English are so damn well-mannered that they even deliver!”
The laughter of two women could be heard further in and then the man turned back to him with an inviting smile. “Aye, come in now lad, what’s your name?”
Sherlock’s eyebrows raised slightly in surprise. Lad? He was slightly older than this man, who looked to be in his mid-twenties, and he was certainly no lad. “My name is Sherlock Holmes and I’m here looking for a man who disappeared several nights ago. His name is Doctor John Watson.”
The man gave him an arrogant smile before extending his hand. “Aye, is that right? My name’s Angelus and I might be able to tell you a helpful tidbit or two.”
Sherlock analyzed the man’s facial expression and knew immediately that this man was involved with Watson’s disappearance. Now the question was, did he proceed or secure back-up?
Unfortunately, that decision was not his to make. Without warning Angelus grabbed his hand and yanked Sherlock into the flat. His head struck the floor with a hard thud and he had to take a moment to catch his bearings before he stood up to survey the three occupants in the room.
“A helpful tidbit or two? Indeed,” he said in a calm voice. “I imagine you lot can tell me quite a bit about my friend.”
“Oh, more than you know,” came the same girl-like giggle that he had heard earlier. Fixing his eyes upon her, he saw that this woman had an elongated pale face and lustrous black hair that hung freely over her shoulders. Next to her was a blond she-devil who was gazing at him hungrily like he was a plate of food and licking her lips like she hadn’t eaten all day.
“Where is Watson?” he asked in a clipped, uncaring voice; he knew that showcasing emotion in front of such wanton vicious criminals would only further cause them to do something cruel. Besides which, he wasn’t an outwardly emotional person much at all.
“Oooh!” the dark-haired one squealed. “I like him. All logic and bravery. He reorders the stars and discovers their meanings!” she swooned against her lady companion.
“Drusilla, please calm yourself,” the blond sighed in a bored tone. “You already have one new child, you can’t have another.”
“Oooh, but I want him! They’re like a set of diamonds in a ring and I am the emerald to which they’ll cling!” Drusilla smiled beautifully at him as she clasped her hands over her heart.
“Darla’s right, Dru. One playmate is enough, anymore and it’ll be harder to hide,” Angelus said as he leaned casually against the door.
“You’re just saying that because you want more women than men,” Darla said in an amused, dry tone as she raised a significant brow.
“Bad daddy,” Drusilla growled. “I want the whole set.”
Sherlock was quickly realizing that these three people were insane. Yet, if the woman’s mad mumblings could be deciphered, then apparently his Watson was still alive. Now he just needed to figure out a way to find the man. Perhaps he was inside a spare bedroom or even a closet? Yet, how would he be able to search without these three stopping him? The witness said that this Drusilla woman was very strong and Angelus’ grip was already beginning to leave a bruise that would last for days.
A shuffling sound could be heard behind him and Sherlock whirled around to put his back against the wall. There, looking pale but still evidentially alive, was Watson!
“Watson! Dear God, man, are you alright?” Sherlock exclaimed in relief.
Watson’s eyes widened in recognition as he approached Sherlock and gave the man a tight, brotherly hug. “Holmes, I should have known you’d find me,” Watson smiled cheerfully as he, it seemed, inhaled Sherlock’s scent. Pulling away, Watson glanced at Drusilla and grinned. “What did I tell you, luv? Is he not the smartest bloke you’ve ever met?”
Drusilla let out a stream of bubbly laughter and cradled her jaw with her hands. “Oh, he is marvelous, my darling. I want to keep him, but mean daddy says no.”
Daddy? Sherlock was perplexed why this young woman kept calling the other man ‘daddy’ for there was not a significant age difference that he could have made Angelus her father.
“Oh, come now Angelus! Live it up every once in a while. Trust me, Holmes is brilliant and sneaky enough that no one could catch him, unlike the tracks that you’ve been laying in your massacre,” Watson said scornfully.
“So he is the murderer that everyone is looking for,” Sherlock said in a low matter-of-fact voice. “Watson, come. We must get you out of here.” He glanced at his long-time friend. “You aren’t looking well…What did they do to you?”
“Aren’t looking well?” Watson scoffed in annoyance. “I feeling fucking fantastic, Holmes!”
Sherlock was taken aback – Watson never spoke like that! It was almost like he was a different person. Not only were his features pallid but it appeared that these fiends had put Watson under some type of mind control.
“Is he really as good as they say?” Angelus sighed as he gave Watson a pointed look.
“Oh, even better mate,” Watson smiled victoriously.
Angelus gave Sherlock a hard, assessing look until he finally nodded. “Fine,” he sighed with a hand gesture. “But yer’ll be responsible for ‘im.”
Drusilla let out a cheer before she hugged Darla, then Angelus, and then Watson until finally skipping over to him. She gave Sherlock a hearty kiss on the mouth that left him sputtering in shock.
“Madam, do control yourself!” Sherlock admonished her.
She just gave him a coy smile and tapped the tip of his nose. “Oh, my new boy is rather uptight, isn’t he? I just can’t wait to unwrap him and see what’s inside,” she whispered gleefully.
“No thank you, madam. There shall be no unwrapping tonight,” Sherlock sharply informed her as he grabbed Watson’s arm. “Come now Watson, we must be going.” Indeed, there was something about the woman; about all of them…even Watson…that was beginning to scare Sherlock. He couldn’t place his finger upon it, but something was unnatural with these people. He only hoped that if he took Watson now his friend would heal from his time with these people unaffected.
In a movement too fast to see, Drusilla grabbed the hand that was gripping Watson, pulled it away, and lightly smacked it. “Grr, naughty dog,” she growled playfully as her brown eyes gave him a burning stare. “You can’t leave before your present, or all the dollies will cry. Be a good pup and stay here.”
Ye gods, this woman was truly mad. “Perhaps you can send me that present by mail? I really must get going.” He tried to edge away but she grabbed the sides of his head and rubbed her cheek against his as she purred lightly.
“Mmm, you smell like gin and sin,” she said in a sing-song voice as he stood rock-still. She wasn’t holding him tight enough to hurt but he felt a deep strength in her grip on him.
She rubbed her nose lightly against his. “Do you want me to be your mummy, little one? I promise to be a good mummy. We will be a nice little family, we will, and you can be with your dear Watson until the stars fall.”
“I have a mother, thank you,” he said stiffly as he began to wonder if he should get his gun. But these people moved much faster than him and he didn’t want to kill unless he had to.
Drusilla gasped and her expression crumbled as she began to cry and let out a wailing moan. Watson rushed to her side and held her against his breast. “Hush now, beloved he didn’t mean it. Poor Holmes just doesn’t understand. His life is made of logic; you are an unknown entity to him.”
Well, that was certainly true. He certainly didn’t understand this woman and he most certainly did not understand why his Watson was holding her like a protective husband!
Drusilla sniffed twice before turning back to him. “You are right.” She gave Sherlock a penetrating stare and her lips curled into a smile. “It is elementary, my dear Watson – now I see it.”
“See what, ducky?” Watson asked her in amusement.
Drusilla blinked owlishly at Sherlock. “He has a mummy…but never a daddy…I can see it. He died long ago from a wicked disease that ate up his insides. And he has a brother that was born to him, yet he sees another man as his brother.”
She grabbed each of their hands and pressed their palms together. “Yes, dearest, I see it now. It is not in my power to be his sire; the stars declare that you’ll lend him your fire.”
“Really, luv? Me?” Watson asked in surprise as Sherlock tried to catch his eye and get his friend to run away with him.
Drusilla giggled. “Oh yes. Brothers not in blood, but in bond is what you were…but tonight you shall overcome that barrier and be joined as fate would have you.”
“Watson!” Sherlock said with a raised voice, his adrenaline screaming at him that something was very wrong with this situation. “We are leaving, now!”
“Sorry, my dear Holmes. You’ll understand it all very soon,” Watson said as he pulled Sherlock against his chest. “This will only hurt a little bit,” his friend murmured in a loving voice as his lips brushed Sherlock’s neck.
Then Holmes heard an unearthly sound like bones shifting in his friend’s face and he kneed Watson in the gut and leapt back. Watson stood up and Holmes stopped in shock as he saw that there was something wrong with Watson’s face. Hard ridges covered his forehead and sharp fangs glistened in the dim candlelight.
“Dear God, Watson! What have these people done to you?” Holmes shouted as he whipped out his revolver to aim it at his friend in fear.
“I’m a new man, Holmes! The man I was meant to be! Don’t you see? Become like me and you can discover all the mysteries of the world – until the end of time.” Watson grinned at him.
Holmes stumbled back. “You are…a monster!” he gasped in a sad voice, for it appeared that there was no way to save his dearest friend. Behind Watson, he saw the other three watching with amused interest.
Looking thoughtful for a moment, Watson shrugged with a smile. “I do suppose so, but it is loads of fun. Now come on, Holmes,” he scoffed as he pointed to the gun. “Do put that down or someone will get hurt.”
Watson started to advance and Holmes aimed the gun as he backed towards the door. “Stay away, Watson! Or I swear I will shoot!” he declared in a loud, fearful voice that trembled slightly at the end.
Pausing, Watson gave him a searing gaze. “No,” he concluded with a shake of his head. “I know you all too well. You love me, Holmes. You can’t hurt me.”
With a quick movement Watson rushed towards him and, dammit all to hell, he was right.
Sherlock just couldn’t shoot his dear Watson.