Not again. Well, of course, again. That was sort of the point, The Great Game and all. Games aren’t over until someone wins. But Moriarty is still masterminding crimes, and Sherlock is still trying to stop him. So, by definition, the Game is still on.
Sherlock found himself sitting on a cold metal chair in pitch blackness, with no reference point to figure out where he was, or how he got there. He attempted to stand, but found that his ankles seemed to be tied to the chair’s legs. No—scratch that. A jingling sound when he moved told him that handcuffs were more likely. Someone (someone doubtless working for Moriarty) had cuffed his ankles to the chair legs. Good to know for later—if the chair were to fall over, there was a chance he could get the cuffs off of it. But knocking over the chair wasn’t a good plan, immediately. Not enough information about his situation. Better to wait, observe some more. Observe things like the fact that his arms wouldn’t move. Not that he could see them not moving, or even feel them (whatever was binding him was tight enough to cut off his circulation), but not being able to feel his arms was as good as a letter informing Sherlock that his arms were not currently under his control.
The detective shifted his position slightly, testing how much he could move in each direction. He also wiggled his fingers, bringing blood flow back to them as a way to gauge exactly what position he was in, but even before they started to swell and ache with feeling Sherlock deduced that what was holding him to the chair was, in fact, a straightjacket. It was obvious really; when one was tied with traditional bonds, one could expect significant chafing against the skin while struggling. In this case, attempts to move were met with more widespread pressure and an aching in his shoulder muscles consistent with having his arms pulled around his front and behind his back. Therefore, straightjacket. Doubtless, there were some extra straps holding the device to the back of the chair, although he didn’t doubt he’d be able to unfasten them when the time came.
It made sense that Moriarty would enjoy using such paraphernalia on others; he’d doubtless seen the inside of a mental hospital at least once. Probably during childhood, before he had the experience to keep himself away from such places.
Next, Sherlock tried to remember how he’d gotten into this situation. The last clear memory he had was of waiting for a taxi on the way back from the mortuary. None of them were stopping; taxi drivers seemed to have an extreme bias against passengers holding clear plastic garbage bags full of frozen human feet. He had just decided to walk home when one cab started to pull over. The problem was that it didn’t slow down as it reached him, and the next thing he was aware of was losing consciousness flat on his back on the pavement with the wind knocked out of him, surrounded by ice and feet. The pain in his ribs would certainly bear out the story that he’d been hit by a cab. Vaguely, he wondered what the feet had come to.
“Sooo nice to see you awake, Sherlock Holmes!” The hair went up on the back of Sherlock’s neck. He’d known this was a plan of Moriarty’s, but actually hearing the sing-song, horribly sweet voice didn’t bode well for his current situation. Often, Moriarty acted through third-party agents, agents likely to make mistakes which Sherlock could exploit. If Moriarty was being direct with this one, careless errors were significantly less of a possibility. Of course, Moriarty wasn’t actually in the room with him; the voice was coming from a rather low-quality speaker somewhere behind his chair, although it was difficult to tell through the significant echo as the sound bounced around the now-apparently small, probably concrete-walled room. Still, the consulting criminal hardly ever used his own voice to communicate. If this particular scheme was exciting enough to Moriarty for him to participate in such a personal manner, it would definitely require more than the average brainpower for Sherlock to puzzle his way out of it. Just the thought of it gave him an adrenaline rush.
John didn’t like it that Sherlock loved solving violent crimes. Seemed to be under the impression that Sherlock enjoyed the fact that violent crimes took place. Which perhaps he did, because otherwise everything would be so incredibly boring, but that didn’t mean that, if no one else were a violent criminal, he’d take up the job. Not any more than John would start stabbing people for a lack of patients at the surgery. It simply wasn’t the point. Sherlock had tried to explain this to John, once at least, but the good doctor had just made an indeterminate sound in the back of his throat. Which was still closer to understanding than most people ever got, so the detective supposed that counted for something. At least John hadn’t moved out of the apartment yet, so all must be well as of now. Or, as of the last time Sherlock was at the apartment and could factually verify that John hadn’t moved out. Which had been roughly two and a half hours before the cab-and-frozen-foot incident. How long ago had that been, Sherlock wondered? Well not more than twenty-four hours—he didn’t feel the overwhelming need to add another nicotine patch quite yet. Sherlock twisted his arm slightly in the straightjacket’s sleeve—yes, there was still the one patch from before on the inside of his right arm—he felt it brushing against the fabric of the restraint. So he could have a full day before withdrawal symptoms set in. Or another hour, all depending on how long he’d been here. Sherlock was too impatient to wait that long for an answer, so he twisted his torso around sharply, waiting to gauge the response from his ribs. It came, of course, making Sherlock wince a little, but he’d learned what he’d wanted to know. Judging from the extent to which his muscles had already stiffened around the afflicted area, it had been at least six hours since the taxi had hit him. Sherlock had noted that most people seemed to judge time by how hungry and/or tired they were, but this method never worked for him, as a case-related adrenaline rush could keep him going awake and unfed for days.
“Sorry about the taxi,” the sing-song voice went on, not sounding sorry in the least. “We had to get you here, and alone, for all of this to work.”
So Moriarty had obviously seen Sherlock cringe. Even if he were in the room, there was no way his eyes were that good (Sherlock had been awake several minutes, and his eyes still hadn’t been able to pick out more than a line of less-dark blackness roughly two meters in front of him, doubtless the strip under the door to this room). Moriarty must have a camera trained on him, then, and one with night-vision capabilities. Good to know, don’t delete.
But if Moriarty had a camera trained on him, doubtless he also had a microphone.
“Why did you need me alone?” Sherlock enunciated to the ceiling.
Moriarty positively giggled. “No questions, not this early. I’ll leave you to puzzle it around in that brain you’re so proud of.” Then, he paused. “I doubt you’ll figure it out, but you won’t be able to keep yourself from trying. Don’t worry though—I’ll tell you soon enough!”
Then, there was the crackle of a speaker being turned off.
And the crackle of a speaker being turned on again.”
“Soon enough for you?” asked the voice, with an inordinate amount of glee. Honestly, thought Sherlock. Moriarty takes such pride in being unpredictable, but it will be possible to predict his actions soon enough just by choosing the least rational option available in a given circumstance.
“What do you want?” Sherlock asked the air in front of him, rather more softly this time. It would be good to know the sensitivity of the microphones in this room.
“From you?” asked the consulting criminal, as Sherlock noted the sensitivity of the microphones. “Nothing! I want absolutely nothing from you, Sherlock Holmes. All you have to do is sit there, and the rest will just fall into place!” Sherlock could practically hear Moriarty grinning.
“You see, the important part is that you’re alone. And that you’ve been kidnapped. And that no one knows where you are. But the real point of this exercise is for you to see what I’ve known all along: The people out there aren’t worth your time!”
Sherlock was finding it difficult to follow the madman’s reasoning, which, he imagined, shouldn’t come as a surprise. It was always more difficult to predict the trajectory of a bullet from a damaged gun than one from a gun in good shape. Not that an incomplete understanding of Moriarty’s thought process was much of a concern at the moment; the consulting criminal’s need to gloat over his accomplishments insured that he’d make his meaning plain before very much longer.
“You see, “ Moriarty went on, and Sherlock allowed himself a grim smile. “You seem to be under the impression that you’re important to the outside world. That the people there need you, Even, “ his voice became simpering, “That they care about you.”
“Which they do, if only because they don’t know any better. But that won’t help them find this place; not with all of their abilities put together will your acquaintances be able to come to your rescue. And so, they will start to get on without you. And that is when our fun can begin.”
It was very easy to imagine Moriarty rubbing his hands together with glee during that last statement. Sherlock was hard pressed not to sigh with exasperation, aware that it was extremely likely that his every activity was being recorded. This was, apparently, another attempt by Moriarty to convert Sherlock to his cause. A cause which could only really be described as ‘world domination,’ as cliché as that sounded. The madman simply did not understand Sherlock at all. Not that anyone did, but at least no one else was quite so presumptuous about trying.