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What the Devilfish?

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What the Devilfish?


A large fish, dressed in a 3-piece, Savile Row, bespoke suit, appeared with a POP on the bottom of the lagoon. The fish blinked several times and looked around. A large, overweight Great White shark swam up to him.

"Howdy!" said the shark, waving a fin. "You're new here, aren't you?"

The fish looked at the shark in confusion, then answered, "Yes. Where am I?"

"This is the Kapupu Lagoon, near the island of Kapupu," the shark said pleasantly. "I'm Sherman. Who are you?"

The fish stared at Sherman for a long minute, then said, "Mycroft."

"Your croft? What's a croft?"

"No, no. Mycroft. That's my name."

"Okay." Sherman stared blankly off for a moment. "What's a croft?"

Mycroft glared at Sherman. "My name is MYCROFT, you bloated ignoramus!"

A hermit crab, smoking a cigar and wearing an empty beer can, sidled up to them. "Well, he's got you pegged, fatboy."

Sherman turned to the crab. "I thought I was Carcharodon carcharias, not Bloated Ignoramus."

Mycroft ran his fin down his face to his mouth and bit it.

"You're versatile, you manage to be both."

"Wow. I'm versatile." Sherman looked blank again. "Do you know what a croft is?"

The crab cocked an eyebrow at him. "A what?"

"A croft. He says he's a croft."

Mycroft eyes bulged in rage. "My name is Mycroft! I am not a croft!"

A sea turtle came up to the trio. "Certainly not. You can't BE a croft. A croft is an enclosed area of land used for small-scale food production."

Mycroft blinked. "Well, yes, that's quite correct–"

Sherman asked, "So you have a croft?"

Mycroft opened and closed his mouth several times, then said, slowly, "Technically, yes."

"Oh," said Sherman. He stared blankly again. "So, what about it?"

"What about what?"

"Your croft."

Mycroft sputtered, "I– It's– That's not–"

"Well, it's not around here," said the crab. "The whole lagoon's spoken for."

The turtle looked at the crab. "That's not true. We–"

"Quiet!" said the crab in an obvious aside. "I'm setting him up to buy some reef front property."

Mycroft glared at them. "Do you think I can't hear you, you crustaceous cretin?"

Sherman said, "Hear who?"

The crab came up to Mycroft and said in a tone of familiarity, "Sorry about that. I forget that not all of the fish here are as… challenged… as the great white yark here."

"Shark," said Sherman.

"Right. Shark," said the crab.

Mycroft stared at the cigar and the plume of smoke rising up from it. "How are you keeping that lit? We're underwater."

"I have to take a drag on it now and then, otherwise it goes out. Happens all the time with these cheap cigars. No staying power."

The turtle swam up to Mycroft. "How do you do? My name's Fillmore. Pleased to meet you."

"Ah?" said Mycroft, eyeing him up and down. "So what's your game?"

"Chess, by preference, although I'm no slouch at pinochle when I can find anyone to play."

Mycroft stared at the turtle, then looked at the crab and the shark. "What aquatic lunatic asylum have I come to? Gah! The whole lot of you are worse than the goldfish I deal with at home!"

A small, blue fish wearing oversized glasses swam up. "Excuse me, are you Mycroft Holmes?"

Mycroft looked wearily at the newcomer. "Yes. Yes, I am. So, what part of my name are you going to dissect for our mutual confusion?"

"None whatsoever. I have a message for you from your brother," said the bespectacled fish.

"Wait, what? A message? From Sherlock?"

"Yes, that's right. He says you should wake up."

"I don't understand," said the turtle. "He isn't asleep."

"If he's asleep, he sure is grouchy in repose," said the crab.

"Maybe he has to get back to his croft?" asked the shark, in his evidently perpetual state of confusion.

"It's– Stop–" Mycroft sputtered.

The small, blue fish looked at him intently. "Mycroft, wake up," he said in Sherlock's voice.

"What?" he said in shock. "Sherlock? What–"

"WAKE. UP."

*

Mycroft raised his head from his desk, blinking. His brother, Sherlock, was leaning over his desk at him and touching him, very gingerly, on his shoulder.

"Mycroft, please wake up," said Sherlock.

Mycroft stared at his brother, then around at his office. Everything was in place: desk, shelves, computer–everything. He turned back to Sherlock. "What happened?"

His brother pursed his lips quite primly at him. "I expect, Mycroft, that you have been overworking and neglecting to rest properly."

"No, no. I mean, the water, the cigar…"

Sherlock stared at him for a beat, then said, "Dreaming, I expect, and an undirected dream, at that. I thought you avoided such things?"

Mycroft blinked slowly. "Yes, yes, you're quite right. Pointless waste of brainpower…" His eyes fell to his desk, and to the book sitting on it: Sherman's Lagoon: Another Day in Paradise by Jim Toomey. "Where in the world did this come from?"

At that moment, Inspector Lestrade entered his office. "Sir? Did you find the book?"

"Book?" Mycroft looked back at his desk. "This one?"

"Yes, sir! I came across it at a second hand shop. I thought you might enjoy it. I hope," he finished feebily as Mycroft looked straight at him. "I thought… what with you talking about goldfish… you might…" he trailed off.

Slowly, Mycroft remembered: coming back to his office, exhausted; straightening his papers; uncovering the book; staring at it in confusion; then reading it.

"Goldfish," said Mycroft.

"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir," said Lestrade.

"In future, please refrain from placing anything unrelated to the business of my office on my desk."

"Yes, sir. It won't happen again."

Sherlock turned the book to face him and looked at the cover. "Looks rather mindless."

"Yes. Yes, it is," said Mycroft. "Worse than goldfish. Deliberately so."

Sherlock looked appalled.

"Lestrade."

"Yes, sir?"

"Thank you," said Mycroft, both amusedly and bemusedly, "for the book. It is indeed rather enlightening to consider things worse than… goldfish."

Lestrade looked relieved.

"Please remove it."

"Right away, sir," he said, then collected the book and walked out.

Mycroft turned to Sherlock. "What was it you wanted?"

Sherlock cocked an eyebrow in amusement at him. "We have–had–an appointment, brother, to discuss some matters pertaining to our current issue."

Mycroft turned to look aghast at his clock. He'd slept through his appointment with Sherlock. Unthinkable.

"Hm. Yes. My apologies, Sherlock. Do forgive me for missing our appointment. Do you have time right now? I can rearrange my schedule."

"If you could."

"Certainly," he said, sitting back down. He turned his thoughts away from submersible cigars and back to the case at hand.