Elementary

May 22nd is Sherlock Holmes Day. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, wrote a total of 56 short stories and four novels about the character, most of which are told from the perspective of Dr. Watson.

Fun fact: Contrary to popular belief, in those stories, Holmes never utters the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson,” though he does occasionally say similar things and use portions of the phrase. He was also not described wearing his iconic deerstalker hat—though that image has become so thoroughly entwined with the character since then that it can be seen in most depictions of him, including a statue at the London Baker Street Station (pictured above).

The Prompt

There’s a knock on your door. Upon opening it, you find yourself facing a man dressed distinctly like Sherlock Holmes. He informs you that he is a detective, and that you are a suspect in the disappearance of a person named John Watson. What happens next?

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73 thoughts on “Elementary

  1. Jennifer Park

    42. The Mystery

    [Follows “41. The Vacation” under “So Close, and Yet…” You can click on my name above for the complete Darth Barbara Saga; sometimes, you then need to click on the saga button on the blog’s menu bar.]

    Barbara had always found the Umpeo’s appearance somewhat unnerving. The bizarre skull bone formation that resembled an old-time Earth hunting hat. The ovipositor that stuck out of their mouth—and which they had to keep bitten down in place, or would fall out, pedicle and all, which was not a pretty sight—with its bulging tip kept literally steaming-hot with pulsating blood. The oversized layers of frock they insisted on wearing even on vacation-worthy planets that were already too warm for them.

    The fact that every member of the species was apparently employed by the most sensationalist gossip agencies of the galaxy.

    The fact that one of them was banging loudly on her bungalow.

    Aisha verified the press credentials through a window, and opened the door.

    The reporter barged in passed her. “Ambassador, do you have any comments about the disappearance of Jon-Wa-Sen?”

    Barbara was still trying to put her bathrobe on. “The what of what?”

    “The disappearance of Jon-Wa-Sen, Ambassador.”

    Barbara frowned. Jon-Wa-Sen was a planet. A smallish planet with one billion dominant inhabitants.

    A planet does not just disappear.

    “You are the only representative of the Galactic Union in this sector, and we require your comment. Was it used for your travels?”

    Barbara blinked. She had a terrible hangover from all the org@sms she had had.

    Aisha was more coherent. “Use it for what?”

    “For you to get here.”

    Barbara began to understand what was going on. The energy used for quantum teleportation was usually tapped from a star, and was fully recovered at the destination point. It all balanced out, as long as the same quantity of ships departed and arrived. The farthest a life form could safely travel in one jump was about 140 light-years, and such a jump in a large cruiser required approximately the energy equivalent to the mass of the Earth. This equivalence had given many species the false impression that Earthlings literally burned planets for traveling.

    It didn’t help that they had a habit of mining entire moons or planets for silica, which was actually used for shipbuilding and cosmetics.

    Anyway, an entire planet, gone?

    Barbara could not let on that she had no idea. “Let me get dressed appropriately, first.”

    She spent an hour “getting dressed”—although her diplomatic uniform was already embedded in her body—furiously trying to communicate with Earth. It took thirty minutes to ascertain that no one had a clue, not even the Fourth Estate. Barbara was, essentially, told to make something up, and it took her twenty minutes to draft a statement, which everyone hated, but grudgingly approved, within ten minutes.

    By then, there was a throng of thirty reporters waiting outside the bungalow.

    Barbara took a deep breath. This was her big moment. She had to pull this off.

    For the Union.

    For Earth.

    She began with the usual, “My good peoples of the Galactic Union…”

  2. SonicCal2

    Where’s Watson?

    It was a cold, snowy, off-school day in New York City. The snow silenced the flashing of lights and the driving of cars upon the streets. On a day such as this, it was a perfect time to read. But what adventure would I go on? To a new place with new characters? Or something classic, a nostalgia trip I would enjoy traveling once more?

    I decided to go for the latter. Above my rustic fireplace, a bookshelf loomed, its shadows dancing to the flames. I had meticulously put each and every book in the correct and proper order, by author, years back when I had moved in. But it did not matter to me then, and it doesn’t matter now, of course.

    I almost began to reach for Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz when I saw a shimmering gold binding catch my eye. The words Adventures of Sherlock Holmes gracefully shone upon the boring brown body, and the novel itself looked like it hadn’t been read in years. Why, Sherlock Holmes! I thought. I remember reading both that and Agatha Christie when I was 15! I haven’t read this collection in 20, so why not give this time-bitten tome a try?

    With as much excitement as I could possibly muster, I picked up the book, blew off the dust, and cleaned off the cover. I choked a bit at the aged dirt, but as a vigorous reader, it was totally worth it. I happily bounced into my seat again, and began turning the pages to the very first story.

    As I was about to finish the first page, I heard an abrupt knocking at my apartment door. I tried to ignore it, but the knocking kept going, at a faster pace. Soon the doorbell was ringing. As my days at college had been quite a hell-storm for me, I was feeling quite annoyed at the noise. It better not be Bart or Quinn again, I whispered to myself. Bart always wants me to join him to play video games and smoke a joint. And Quinn? She’s the class ass, always butting her empty head into other people’s business.

    “Johann! I told you not to let them into my apartment! The last time you did, they broke all but one of my China vases!” I yelled as I slipped on my boots and zipped up my jacket. “And they didn’t pay me back for that, either!” (Johann was a college mate of mine, as well as the apartment building neighbor who lived one floor up. Her father owned the place.)

    “God damn, calm down!” I heard her older-but-not-so-mature voice shout back. “What’s the big deal?”
    “You clearly don’t know how to be a good apartment guardian, Jo! You know how I hate Jock’s ass!” I shouted back as I began to open up the door. “I swear, if you did this to annoy me again for the millionth time, I will—”

    To my very surprise, I saw a very strange sight. A tall man with a stout face, a thin nose, and the classic deerstalker cap and coat.He was quite stern, as expected from such a character. Because I was startled, I could only blush until I turned pink. “Oh, my apologies, Mister, um—”
    “Holmes. Sherlock Holmes.”
    “The… the real one?”
    He raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “Are you trying to kid me?”
    I could only blush further. “So sorry… erm… Mr. Holmes. I wasn’t expecting you to appear at my doorstep. Um…. what seems to be the problem?”
    “My partner, Mr. Watson… he’s missing. And you’re the first suspect.”

  3. SonicCal2

    It was a cold, snowy, off-school day in New York City. The snow silenced the flashing of lights and the driving of cars upon the streets. On a day such as this, it was a perfect time to read. But what adventure would I go on? To a new place with new characters? Or something classic, a nostalgia trip I would enjoy traveling once more?

    I decided to go for the latter. Above my rustic fireplace, a bookshelf loomed, its shadows dancing to the flames. I had meticulously put each and every book in the correct and proper order, by author, years back when I had moved in. But it did not matter to me then, and it doesn’t matter now, of course.

    I almost began to reach for Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz when I saw a shimmering gold binding catch my eye. The words Adventures of Sherlock Holmes gracefully shone upon the boring brown body, and the novel itself looked like it hadn’t been read in years. Why, Sherlock Holmes! I thought. I remember reading both that and Agatha Christie when I was 15! I haven’t read this collection in 20, so why not give this time-bitten tome a try?

    With as much excitement as I could possibly muster, I picked up the book, blew off the dust, and cleaned off the cover. I choked a bit at the aged dirt, but as a vigorous reader, it was totally worth it. I happily bounced into my seat again, and began turning the pages to the very first story.

    As I was about to finish the first page, I heard an abrupt knocking at my apartment door. I tried to ignore it, but the knocking kept going, at a faster pace. Soon the doorbell was ringing. As my days at college had been quite a hell-storm for me, I was feeling quite annoyed at the noise. It better not be Bart or Quinn again, I whispered to myself. Bart always wants me to join him to play video games and smoke a joint. And Quinn? She’s the class ass, always butting her empty head into other people’s business.

    “Johann! I told you not to let them into my apartment! The last time you did, they broke all but one of my China vases!” I yelled as I slipped on my boots and zipped up my jacket. “And they didn’t pay me back for that, either!” (Johann was a college mate of mine, as well as the apartment building neighbor who lived one floor up. Her father owned the place.)

    “God damn, calm down!” I heard her older-but-not-so-mature voice shout back. “What’s the big deal?”
    “You clearly don’t know how to be a good apartment guardian, Jo! You know how I hate Jock’s ass!” I shouted back as I began to open up the door. “I swear, if you did this to annoy me again for the millionth time, I will—”

    To my very surprise, I saw a very strange sight. A tall man with a stout face, a thin nose, and the classic deerstalker cap and coat.He was quite stern, as expected from such a character. Because I was startled, I could only blush until I turned pink. “Oh, my apologies, Mister, um—”
    “Holmes. Sherlock Holmes.”
    “The… the real one?”
    He raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “Are you trying to kid me?”
    I could only blush further. “So sorry… erm… Mr. Holmes. I wasn’t expecting you to appear at my doorstep. Um…. what seems to be the problem?”
    “My partner, Mr. Watson… he’s missing. And you’re the first suspect.”

  4. brookesmith

    I heard a knock, loud and clear, on my front door.

    I sighed and shut my book. I walked over to the door, and opened it, extremely annoyed. (I was getting to the good part.) The door creaked open, and standing there, to my surprise, was an odd looking man wearing a deer hunter’s hat.

    “Excuse, me, ma’am, but I’m afraid you are suspect in the kidnapping of a Mr. John Watson.” The strange man told, me, careful to keep a straight face.

    “Haha, very funny.” I laughed, then began to shut the door. He reached his hand, out, quick as a cheetah, and blocked me from closing the door. He smiled, showing eerily white teeth.

    “Ma’am, this is no joke. I need you to come with me.” The man said, beckoning for me to follow him.

    “Who are you?”

    “A detective.”

    “Deduce something, then.”

    “You are an annoying little girl who enjoys being a prat.” The man smirked, and cocked his head, awaiting an answer.

    “No s***, Sherlock.” I retorted.

    “You have no idea.” The detective frowned. “Come with me, now.”

    “Magic word?”

    “Come with me now, please?”

    “Nope. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be getting back to my reading.” I slammed the door in his face, making sure to lock it. Something tickled the back of my brain, something strange.

    John Watson…deer hunter’s hat…detective.

    All of those things had something to do with the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

    “Wait!” I called, and ran out the front door. “Mr. Holmes!”

    But Sherlock Holmes was gone, gone to find Doctor Watson.

    And I had just been the biggest brat in the world to my favorite literary character.

  5. Bushkill

    Surprise!

    “Watson, you say? Never heard of the bloke,” I reply, crossing my arms and standing in the doorway to block his view and path.

    Without missing a beat, he taps out his pipe into my flower pot, the begonias looking decidedly displeased at this turn of events. He then jabs my chest with the pointy end of his pipe as he clutches the bowl, “My good man, you lie. Why would you do such a thing? What is it you are hiding?

    “I’m not hiding anything. I don’t know your missing man is all.” I cast a sidelong glance at my poor flowers, “Do take a moment to reconsider dumping your ash on another man’s begonias. It’s an irregularity and rude.”

    Poke!

    I rub my chest again. Mister plaid cap and bizarre cloak/jacket piece is beginning to get under my skin. The thought of “skin” and “under” pushed some neurological button and I began fidgeting with my fingernails. It’s a nervous tick I haven’t been able to shake since the fourth grade. It didn’t help with the fashion police on my doorstep, either.

    “I see I’m making you a little uncomfortable. Something you’d like to share to usher in a little personal ease?”

    Okay, this is really getting to me. “Look, buddy. I don’t know who you think your pressing, but I don’t know this Johnny boy of yours and …”

    “Cuff ‘em, Sergeant. He’s our man.”
    “Sergeant” must have been a euphemism for “local badge wearing members of the constabulary” for I was set upon by six—eight—big lads.

    With cudgels.

    And bad attitudes.

    One chap did have minty breath. I considered it a kindness ‘cuz the others smelled like the wrong end of a horse.

    With some ceremony, they heaved me into the back of their paddy wagon and we raced off toward the station. I argued, ferociously, but I got nothing for my efforts except nightsticks stabbed through my bars into some of my softer and more delicate parts.

    My fee escalated.

    The station, as I could have told them if they had been inclined to a more noble version of conversation, was dark.

    The hat-wearing chap, Holmes, grabbed me by the collar and hauled me into the darkened police building. The moment the door opened, I started counting down from ten. When I got to three I stood up straight, jarring Holmesy’s grip loose and roaring at the top of my lungs.

    I spun away and dove behind a desk, my part in the event over. The man behind the desk, a fellow by the name of John Watson, stood in my stead, wearing a matching outfit. When the lights blazed back to life, Holmes let out a startled gasp. In what could only be counted as sheer brilliance, the man lost control of his facial features as fear, surprise, and anger rushed to the surface and broke his well-established calm.

    My replacement laughed at Holmes’ visage, “Got you, you old salt. Happy Birthday!”

  6. realdaddio

    The knock on the door startled me. I am in a secure condo, so the only person it could be was a neighbor that lived in the same building. Typically, I go “off-the-grid” at 9:00 pm which is when my iPhone goes into sleep mode, only disturbed by those in my “favorites.” This was the door not my phone so I was annoyed at the prospect of a visitor, so unless they were bringing me pastries for the morning, they better be quick.
    As I looked through the peephole in the door I could see it was someone unfamiliar, dressed oddly. I opened the door. “Can I help you?” I said to the stranger with cloak and pipe. “Yes you can” he said. “My name is Holmes, Sherlock Holmes.” “How did you get in the building-and you know there is no smoking in here too, right?” “Your neighbor Mr. Smith let me in after I explained the importance of seeing you.” “And as far as smoking, it is really just a prop anymore, since I quit years ago.” “May I come in?” Holmes continued. “Fine” I said, “Can we make this quick.” Holmes looked me over as he entered my unit, studying my attire and leaning close trying to smell if I had alcohol on my breath. “OK, what do you want?” “I want to know what you have done with Dr. Watson-I know he was here.” “He had his “find my iPhone app turned on and I followed it here.” “Look I said” “There has been no one here by that name today, yesterday or ever, so if you don’t leave, I will call the police.” “They may be interested in why you are dressed that way in the middle of May.” “Look sir,” Holmes said, “I know he was here and I want to retrieve him.” “Did you knock on the other door across the hall?” I said. “I have new neighbors; maybe they have seen your friend.” “I’d not considered that,” he said “perhaps I should, if for no reason than to prove your guilt.” With that, Holmes turned around and exited my condo. My neighbor’s door is only eight feet across the hall from mine so with two large steps he was there knocking, pipe clenched in his teeth. It was maybe 20-30 seconds when I heard the dead-bolt unlatch and the door open. In the doorway I could see a middle-aged man with a belly, only a towel covering his privates, standing there. “Holmes!” said the man. “Watson!” said Sherlock rushing the man with his arm open, ready for an embrace it seemed. After hugging for a short time, Holmes turned towards me and said “Sorry for the inconvenience” and “have a good evening” as he entered Watson’s condo, shutting the door behind him. We really need a better security system I thought as I shut my door and headed to bed.

  7. JosephFazzone

    “What’s in that pipe your smoking?” I was in no mood for solicitors.

    “I’m not here to toy with you, my good man,” he spoke so properly, “but I speak in earnest. You are a suspect.”

    “Maybe, I’ve seen too many cliché cops shows, but you haven’t even flashed me a badge.”

    “I’m a private detective.”

    “So, you’re not a cop.”

    “I’m a consultant.”

    “Consultant, right,” I mused. “Well, consult me on this. What am I a suspect for?”

    “The disappearance,” he began. “Look, I told you that already.”

    “You’ve told me nothing!” I bit back. “I don’t know a Watson, I don’t know you, I don’t know who put you up to this, I…”

    “Shhhh,” he shushed me, and then nodded to you, the readers of this story. “At risk of breaking another fourth wall…”

    “Like we did last time…”

    “…right,” he nodded. “So, in the spirit of that mayhem, can I point out that you being the suspect is the point of the prompt.”

    “I’m sorry, I…”

    He held his hand up. “I know, it’s okay, let’s just push forward.”

    “There was a Watson here the night before,” I said as I cleared my throat. “He came at the bequest of a Dr. Zhivo who was researching the formula for mal-adjusted megalomaniacs with penchant desire for vindication and flower arrangements.”

    He stood there with his hands on his hips. “Really?”

    “I’m trying!”

    He shook his head, muttered something beneath his breath, and then coughed. “Right, well, the thing is, your friend Zhivo has bit of a history. One that Watson should have warned you about. Or should I say, you should have warned Watson about him?”

    “Zhivo?”

    “The same.”

    “I did tell you about the flower arrangements,” I stated in amazement that he didn’t get the hint. “He’s a pansy, man! There’s no way he’s responsible for your friend’s disappearance.”

    “Where were you on the night of May the 23rd?”

    “In real life or in this story?”

    He smacked me with his hat.

    “You got nothing on me copper!” I screamed at him, straightening derby hat.

    “Oh dear, you seem to be struggling,” He noted.

    “I might be struggling,” I admitted.

    His look softened as his eyes narrowed with wisdom. “We walk a journey, my friend. We spread the seeds of creativity in so many gardens to affect the perspective we wish to be bound to. The stories from grandiose to gawdy, fretting to fantastic, and fun for all. We don’t, however, change our spots.”

    “Your character is a well-honed, well-crafted masterpiece. Your every move has documented by much more gentler hands than I. You are the legend.” I was sweating profusely.

    “Have we found our man?“

    “We hemmed and hawed, mixed metaphors, and scrambled any semblance of a point.” I shrugged, as I squirmed.

    “But did we find our man?” His eyebrows rose as the conductor’s hands do before the finale.

    “I suspect so,” I sighed. “I am the suspect, and the found.”

    “Watson!” He said good naturedly, “Good to have you back! Absinthe so early in the morning?”

    “Too much wormwood,” I said sticking my tongue out.

    Without another word, “We have had a break in the Sandusky disappearance.”

    “I’ll make some tea,” I said with a nod. “Please come in.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Well Joseph you put everything in this for a classic comedy. What finally put me on the floor was the flower arrangements. Fun story for a Monday evening.

  8. ReathaThomasOakley

    Looking for John Watson
    May, 1955
    (From a late in the book chapter, tweaked a bit for the prompt)

    “Annie, I’m so upset right now I can’t even think of a scripture.” Mama’d made me sit down at the table, but she was walking and getting redder and redder in the face.

    “I’m soooo sorry,” I’d been saying over and over. I didn’t want to cry but thought I was gonna, ‘specially if she said, disappointed. That always made my heart hurt real bad.

    I’d been trying to find more mysteries to solve and the house over on Whitney Street, down from Jimmy on the corner, had lots of mysteries. Me and Mama went there three Saturdays ago to take some sweet potatoes Aunt Helen brought from Palatka. Inside that house is very unusual. Right in the living room there’s a bed like I had when I had my tonsils out. I don’t talk about that much any more, folks have heard it a lot and I don’t want anybody to get bored listening.

    Laying in that bed, with ever body just walking around, is Miss Irma’s daughter Maidie Jean. She’s in a coma, Mama told me, can’t hear or talk or move, Miss Irma has to do ever thing for her. I don’t like to think about what that all means, but the smell made me think some things ain’t being done like they should. Mama said she was in a car accident and her head got hit, that she’d been married, had three little boys, but they don’t never come visit.

    But, when ever body else was talking about the weather and such, she looked right straight at me and blinked her eyes like she was trying to tell me something. I turned so I’d be looking right back at her and smiled. One side of her mouth kinda moved like she was smiling back.

    Since then I been walking by the house, all casual like, and slowing down under the windows so I can figure out more things about Miss Irma and Maidie Jean. As a detective I’ve learned lots of stuff doing that.

    Sometimes Dr. Walker stops by, but I can’t figure out why Miss Irma says her daughter needs more of some kind of pills or the other. That’s a true mystery, ‘cause I ain’t never in three weeks heard her like Miss Irma says she gets. I can’t walk by there after dark, so maybe that’s when she thrashes around. That’s a new word that I looked up in the big dictionary at school, sounds kinda like Brother when he has nightmares.

    Now, Mama’s all upset with me ‘cause Miss Irma caught me listening under the window and writing things in my notebook.

    “Who do you think you are?” She’d hung out the window and yelled at me. “Roamin’ all over the place, spyin’ on folks, wearing that silly cape.” I don’t get yelled at much and just couldn’t think of any way to answer her so I did something really, really silly.

    “Oh, hey, Miss Irma. I’m just looking for this new boy at school, thought he might be visiting you. His name is, ah, John Watson. You seen—” But she started laughing like she’d heard the funniest joke on Red Skelton.

    “John Watson? You crazy little snoop, you really do think you’re that there Sherlock Holmes.”
    She musta called up Mama right away, ‘cause when I got home Mama’s face was already red and I was ‘bout to cry.

    “I gotta talk to your daddy ‘bout this,” Mama said when I was trying to explain ‘bout all what I’ve heard, “but, ‘til I do, take that cape off and put it in the closet.” I hung it up, and even put my notebook in the cigar box under the bed, then went back into the kitchen.

    “Mama, I think I’m gonna take a little walk, if that’s alright with you, before Daddy gets home.” She didn’t answer, just went back to peeling potatoes.

    I was almost to Miss Jimmie Mae’s house, hadn’t cried yet, but my eyes felt like I’d been at the beach all day without sunglasses, when I heard, “Hey Annie.” I hadn’t wanted to have to talk to no body, but hadn’t noticed her on her porch.

    “Hey,” I said, but kept on walking.

    “I just baked some banana bread. Want a slice?” I stopped and thought about the bread and about how she always listens to me, so I nodded and went up on the porch. I kept on trying, but soon as I was in the living room I just couldn’t keep the tears inside no more.

    “Annie, whatever is the matter?”

    (Rest of chapter, hopefully next week. This Annie piece is a rewrite of something from a long ago prompt. I recycle lots of what I’ve done here.)

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I just lost my entire response to your story. This one is full of intrigue and I think we are going to find skullduggery afoot in part two. Very strong interest from the read so I can’t wait for part two.

  9. snuzcook

    ***Please excuse the second posting–had to take another stab at it.***

    The knock roused me from I’m not sure what, drowsing? Staring blindly at the open book on my lap? My neck ached from being in one position too long, and my left foot was asleep. I climbed out of the armchair and hobbled to the window. Peering through the draperies I could make out a man of medium build wearing a gray great coat and a tweed deer stalker cap.

    At least it wasn’t one of Them. When they knocked it was the rumble of a boxer working a speed bag. It was an announcement, not a request, since They always managed to get inside without any invitation. And They wore black. Always black.

    I listened. I was alone when I dosed off, but you can never be too cautious. I waited, willing the hairs on my arms and the pores in my skin to scent the air and tell me if anything lurked in the empty rooms of the house.

    Satisfied that I was alone, I opened the door. It was his eyes I noticed first, penetrating intelligent gray eyes. Eyes like my grandfather the evangelist’s, that drew the truth from your soul like metal shavings to a magnet.

    “What?”

    “My name is Sherlock Holmes. I am investigating the disappearance of Dr. John Watson.”

    “So?”

    “Is that name familiar to you?”

    “Of course. He used to live here. That was over a year ago.”

    “I’d like to ask you a few questions. May I come in?”

    I again stretched out my senses to confirm that the house was empty. Maybe this stranger’s presence would keep the shadows at bay. I led him into what had once been used as the former tenant’s consulting room.

    “I still use much of the furniture he had left behind, but I stowed away all the books and equipment until he could arrange to have them picked up. He told me he was going to be away on the Continent for an extended time.”

    “When are you expecting him to return?”

    “I couldn’t say. I got the impression he was retiring because of his health. I assumed it was a rather sudden decision.”

    “Did he tell you exactly where he was going? Any forwarding address?”

    “No. Wait a minute—Sherlock Holmes. I remember that name. Aren’t you the fellow that helped him in those police cases, the ones that he chronicled in the paper?”

    “We worked together.”

    “I thought you died. That was around the time he closed his practice. He went to Switzerland, I seem to recall, looking for you. And when he came back he closed his practice.”

    “The reports of my death were…premature. Did he mention anything else; any names perhaps, or places?”

    A shadow passed by the window. Was that a knocking at the kitchen door? “Did you hear that?” Holmes eyes left mine only briefly.

    “What did you hear,” he asked.

    Before I could answer, there was a faint squeak. Was it a footfall on the floor above? My senses were suddenly overwhelmed by the presence of intruders. The house was alive with shadows moving in my peripheral vision.

    “They’re back!” I sunk into a corner where nothing could get behind me.

    “Who’s back?”

    “Them. They. You shouldn’t have come. You shouldn’t have said his name.”

    “What name?”

    I was whispering now, but it was already too late. “John Watson. They’ve been looking for him. You, too, probably. They’re the real reason he left. They’re always listening, always watching. You should never have come here. Why did you have to come!”

    The room was darkening. Shadows crowded my vision. Their silent shrieks blocked out everything else. The last thing I heard was Holmes’ voice, the voice of my grandfather:
    “You’ll be all right, John. You’ll be all right. You’ve had a breakdown. Dr. Moriarty is here and he’s going to give you an injection. Just relax.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Gad! What a beautiful nightmare you’ve written. Something for “Inner Sanctum” perhaps. Your descriptive verse describing thr shadows and this line, ‘The house was alive with shadows moving in my peripheral vision.” Goose bumps galore. Will I sleep tonight when the darkness arrives? Probably not.

  10. ShamelessHack

    There’s a knock on my door.
    I open it to find a man is standing in front of me dressed distinctly like Sherlock Holmes.
    “I am a detective,” he says. “And you are a suspect. A suspect in the disappearance of a person named John Watson.”
    I put my hands out in front of me and say, “You got me, Sherlock. Better use handcuffs.”

    (Don’t miss the exciting sequel: “There’s a knock on your cell door. You look through the peephole to find a man standing there dressed like a prison guard…”)

    1. jhowe

      I think you’re supposed to add something between the knocking and the confession, but this brevity does save time. I look forward to the sequel to find out when they started putting peep holes in jail cell doors. Maybe Soleil Tangiere could make a cameo appearance…

  11. Kerry Charlton

    A KNOCK AT MY DOOR

    A ‘white out roared like an angry wolf across the half frozen terrain and the wind rattled the ancient front door, against the jamb. A loud wrap of the knocker bounced in Ben’s ear and he answered immediately,

    “Hold on, I’m coming, just a minute.”

    It took a moment to operate the antique lock but when the door opened, a man patiently asked,

    “Mind if I step in? England’s not worth a damn in winter.”

    “I couldn’t agree more, but this is Philadelphia,”

    “Doesn’t matter, same snow and wind. By the way, I’m ;looking for a Mr. Franklin, first name Benjamin.”

    “Well, if your looking for the signer of the Declaration Of Independence, you’re about two hundred and forty years late. I tale you are the great detective Sherlock Holmes.”

    “Well I am sorry to bother you, I must have set the time machine incorrectly I am Sherlock, brought to life by Sir Arthur. and your name is ……..?”

    I am also Benjamin Franklin, twelve generations removed. I am directly related though. Let me get you something warm to drink, whiskey okay?”

    “Yes, fine but I must tell you my mission. Sir Arthur is dying slowly from throat cancer and he has positive proof that Franklin defeated the same cancer and lived to his middle eighties. Can you help and more import to Sir Arthur, will you?”

    “So he brought you to life, invented a time machine, amazing Is there enough time?”

    “We can only try, Mr. Franklin. Can you go now?”

    “Yes, I have little family and am a writer. What fascinating material for a novel. Give me thirty minutes to pack. I think I can figure out the controls on the machine but if not, we may land in the stone age.”

    I’d rather not if you please, we’ll set the time lock together.”\\

    “Certainly, Holmes, if I may call you that.”

    “You want me to say it don’t you?”

    “Elementary, my dear Holmes?”

  12. Lex Noël

    “Right,” I say incredulously. “Is this for the new show airing down at the station?”

    The man stares at me blankly. I must say the costume is amazing. This guy looks like he stepped straight out of nineteenth century London and on to my doorstep.

    “Airing? Airing what? And no, I come from no station sir,” the man takes a long draw from his pipe. “I’m Detective Sherlock Holmes, and you, Mr. Nathaniel Caddock, are an official suspect in the disappearance of Dr. John Watson. Be a good lad and don’t make a scene. Perhaps you should step aside and allow me in.”

    I look around along the sidewalk, but I can’t see any cameras or crew. Maybe it’s some sort of secret publicity stunt. He must have a camera hidden on a button of his coat or something. I guess it can’t hurt to play along.

    “Make yourself at home then, Mr. Holmes,” I say as I step to the side of the doorframe. The Holmes impersonator steps briskly over the threshold and straight down the hall into the dining room. I follow behind him, breathing in the lingering scent of pipe tobacco; sweet and woody.

    The man stands beside my black leather couch and takes in the room.

    “Odd style of décor I must say,” the Sherlock man says to me. “Quite progressive.”

    “I guess so…my girlfriend likes IKEA,” I tell him.

    “IKEA?” the man asks puzzled. “I’ll take your word for it.”

    He pauses for a long moment, staring at the black and white photo of Paris on the far wall. This is a bit dull for a publicity stunt. Should I get more into character? Act more surprised? Angry? Confused?

    “Let’s get down to the point, Mr. Caddock,” the Sherlock man says suddenly. “Where were you the night of May twenty-first between the hours of one and three in the morning?”

    My blood runs cold.

    “I, uh, I was at the bar with my mate Thomas and a couple of friends of his,” I stare at him as coolly as possible. “I don’t remember their names.”

    “I see,” Sherlock takes another long draw from his pipe and slowly, agonizing slowly, blows out the swirling gray smoke. How does he know about that night? Who is this guy?

    “Can your friend, Thomas was it? Account for your whereabouts for the entirety of that evening, Mr. Caddock?” Sherlock asks. My skin goes clammy and cold. Is this some new stint of the police?

    “I…I stepped out to get some fish and chips from a pub down the street. Thomas stayed at the bar, otherwise we were together the whole night.” I swallow, my throat tightening and sickeningly dry.

    “Interesting. And what was the name of this establishment?” the man eyes me steadily. My stomach bubbles with acidity. I think I’m going to throw up.

    “The Doctor’s Box,” I say coolly. “But everyone calls it Watson’s.”

  13. JRSimmang

    ALONG THE THAMES
    Part 2

    “Dead?”

    “Apparently, Dr Murray, as he lay here in dreadful repose.” Holmes had his fingers clutched around his coat lapel, and I noticed the nail of his thumb had been bitten to the quick and had a slightly bluish tint at the cuticle. Anemia? Either way, he was certainly depriving himself of oxygen.

    “Well, why in the hell did you bring me down here?” I stared into the glassy silver eyes of John
    Watson. “Does Eliza know?”

    “Ms Banbridge is unaware of most anything these days.”

    I looked up into Holmes’s eyes. “How do you mean?”

    “Had he not told you? Good god, you really did just get reacquainted. Yes, well, Ms.
    Banbridge was suffering from a mental disorder come about three years and some change ago.
    She began forgetting trifling things, then, once she forgot John’s name, we knew she had
    succumbed to it all together. That was John’s final mission- to find a cure.”

    “Incredible.”

    “Yes, it was quite touching.”

    “No. Well, yes, that, but also his hands.”

    “Yes, Dr. Murray, keep going.”

    “No edema.”

    “No.”

    “And, there’s a ligature mark.”

    “Of course.”

    I put my ear to his chest and thumped. “No water.”

    “You’re a psychiatrist?”

    “Neurophisiologist.” I peered back up to Holmes who had one eyebrow raised. “You already know about his lungs.”

    “Yes.”

    “Then, let it out, Holmes. Don’t just stand there and watch me make a fool of myself.”

    He snorted. “Do you know how Watson and I met?”

    “I hardly see how this is relevant.”

    “He said that the proper study of mankind is man,” Holmes barely murmured, drawing out the syllables and fading off into nothing.

    “He said the same thing to me in Afghanistan,” I replied after a few breaths.

    “Hm.”

    We stood letting the silence rest on the sunlight through the window. “So, where do I factor into
    all this?”

    Holmes blinked twice, cleared his throat, and asked, “I mentioned the Olde Friar.”

    “The pub.”

    “Yes.”

    “And the hookworms.”

    “Giardia, perhaps, though there are other factors to consider as well.”

    “We didn’t imbibe of water that evening, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

    “Then we can rule out giardia.”

    The memory came crashing to me, and I took off my shoe. Hidden under my sock was a small
    ulcer in between my big toe and the one next to it, undoubtedly where the hookworms entered
    my skin. “Well I’ll be.”

    “Ah, good guess.”

    “Good news,” I said. “Thymol should do the trick.”

    “Check Watson’s feet.”

    I took off his shoes and socks, still damp from the river. “I say, Holmes, did you drudge him up
    yourself?”

    He looked at me quizzically. “Well Scotland Yard certainly wasn’t!”

    “Hookworms. Ligature. Again, I ask, how do I factor into this?”

    “Dr. Murray,” he said, removing his waistcoat. “I must admit that this may seem far-fetched.”

    “Most of the events today are most certainly that.”

    “Do you have a watch?”

    I checked my pocket, absent the usual weight. “It appears I opted for no watch tonight.”

    “Not that it would do much good. Waterlogged.” He produced it from his pocket.

    “You don’t think-”

    “I do.”

    “Absurd.” I felt my face flush.

    “And, yet, here we are.”

    I felt his eyes piercing mine. Though he was worn ragged, his eyes retained a youthful apparition; it unsettled me. “Holmes. Look, we got snockered, but I guarantee that isn’t-” I reached for a scupula and petri dish, and scraped off the remaining mud from the bottom of John’s trousers.
    “From Whitechapel.”

    Holmes scratched his head. “Wait.”

    “I loaned him the watch!” I shouted, remembering suddenly that he had asked for the time, and I
    handed him the watch as a farewell gift.

    “From Whitechapel?”

    “Whitechapel.”

    “That means something completely different,” he whispered.

    “Looks like we have a case, Mr Holmes. Should I ring the Yard?”

    “No,” he blurted. “No. We’ll solve this ourselves.”

    -JR Simmang

  14. snuzcook

    “I am investigating the disappearance of Dr. John Watson, and I suspect you had something to do with it. I’d like to ask you some questions.”

    She stood in the doorway in her bathrobe and slippers. One hand was still on the inside doorknob, the other high on the door jamb, blocking any entrance to the little house. “The hell you say. I don’t know which is more ridiculous, me being a suspect of anything, or that you are the one accusing me.”

    “May I come in?” The tall man in was dressed like a Victorian gentleman right out of the 1880s, complete with gloves, tall hat, and walking stick.

    “Oh, by all means.” She stepped back with exaggerated formality to allow him entrance. “Please do excuse the mess.”

    He walked without hesitation down the short hall to the little kitchen at the back of the house. “Please have a seat,” she said. “Coffee? Or would you prefer tea?”

    “Nothing, thank you. I won’t keep you long. I see you are expecting someone.”

    She looked at the table with only one plate of half-eaten toast and one cup of tepid coffee. “What do you mean?”

    “The pile of papers there on the counter. Clearly you just moved them from this chair to make room for a guest.”

    “I could be taking them to the recycling bin.”

    “The issue of Writers Digest on top is new, and I see a book in the stack which probably arrived in the empty Amazon box in the corner. Further, there is a fine spray of droplets from when you sprayed the table with cleaner this morning. The overspray is evident on the magazine,” He bent and dabbed a gloved finger along the arm of the chair. “…And on the arm of the chair, but not on the seat of the chair.”

    “Oh, just sit down.”

    With a deliberate economy of motion, the tall man lowered himself onto the chair, resting his hands on the walking stick in front of him. His host topped off her coffee cup and sat across from him. She took a bite of toast and regarded him as she chewed. “That get up is really good, in a Jeremy Brett kind of way, not Basil Rathbone or Benedict Cumberbatch; I like the classic Victorian Holmes. So, what’s the deal? You said you’re investigating a disappearance?”

    “Dr. John Watson, a long-time associate of mine—as you very well know. When did you last see him?”

    “That depends what you mean. I’m not sure that I’ve really seen him for quite a while.”

    “He was observed coming out of this house yesterday morning. There’s no use denying it.”

    “Why should I deny it? He got up yesterday, had breakfast, got dressed for work and left. I haven’t seen him since.”

    “Did you report him missing?”

    “Why should I? I assumed he was at work or at home. He doesn’t live here. We’re not together anymore.”

    “But he sleeps here sometimes.”

    “He’s a doctor at the public health hospital. He works double shifts sometimes — his schedule’s been brutal and he gets tired and … confused. I’m close and I have a spare room.”

    “I see.”

    “And you’re wrong. I ‘m not expecting a guest. I moved those things off the chair when John arrived two nights ago. We sat here and talked until two, three o’clock in the morning.”

    “What did you talk about?”

    She got up and put the toast plate on the drain board, cinched her robe tight around her, and stood looking out of the window over the sink. “What we always talk about these days: We talked about making a difference. We talked about futility. He’d had a case that went bad and he was upset. We talked about the need to feel there are answers to the tragedies that we see—that he sees—every day.”

    “And I suppose you shared his desire to find meaning?”

    “I did not. I told him he was chasing an illusion. I told him to suck it up or give up medicine. There will always be tragedy. I said there is no rational pattern; bad things happen to good people, and there are no heroes. The world doesn’t work that way anymore. No matter how smart or clever or observant he is, he can’t predict every cause and effect. He was driving himself crazy to try.”

    “So you told him it was pointless. You took a person who was looking for hope and condemned him.”

    “I told a person who was destroying himself with fantasies of his own omnipotence to face reality. I told him to stop deluding himself before he became the patient. Look, I was tired, okay? I wasn’t as compassionate as I could have been.”

    “And what did you expect him to do?”

    She picked up the coffee carafe and brought it to the table. “I didn’t expect anything. It was just a conversation.”

    “And that was the last time you saw him?”

    “Until now. Are you sure you don’t want some coffee, John? I mean, Mr. Holmes?”

    1. jhowe

      Nice, Snuz. A cryptic way to bring this tale to a satisfying close. Not until the last word did I figure it out, though I did wonder when he knew his way through the house.

  15. lunatic joke

    I gave the man an odd look. He was dressed quite oddly for the weather, the muggy Indiana summers unforgiving on even those clothes in the lights of materials. The long cape, the three-piece suit, and the distinctive cap all led to a rather intelligent conclusion: this man was quite mad. No one in their right mind wore so many layers unless they wished for a heat stroke and death before the noon sun ever hit it’s peak.

    “Do you have any proof?” I waved toward where I presumed his pocket was. “I’d like to see some identification first, sir.”

    The man looked surprised, as though he hadn’t expected it. “Ah, yes, I have my badge right here. A moment, madam.” He turned to rummage through his pockets, where I saw a flash of something resting in the tight band of his pants. Something black, metallic.

    Something distinctly gun like.

    As the man turned, he caught sight as I began to close the door on him. The air was charged, like lightning was about to strike.

    For a moment, it was still.

    Then he moved, using his superior eight and weight to his advantage. He bashed his way through the door with a raucous roar that seemed to shake me to my bones. I was sent flying, tumbling through the entryway of my home. I couldn’t help the pained cry that fell from my lips. “JOHN!”

    The man was on me in the next moment, hands pinning mine down, the other reaching for what I presumed rightfully to be a gun. He pressed the metal barrel to my head, voice now a low growl, a complete opposite from the smooth, educated voice held spoken with moments before. “Tell me ‘ere John Watson is, or year going to get it, missy.”

    I glared defiantly and spit in the man’s face. “Never.”

    The man raised the gun and bashed it across my face, yelling, “WHERE IS HE?”

    “I’ll never tell you!” Just in that second, I knew death was coming. I could see it in the man’s eyes, so sure that a bullet would drill into my head as soon as he pulled the trigger. I braced, closing my eyes and sending a prayer to the heavens to make it painless.

    But it never came.

    There was a loud, aim filled grunt, and the weight pinning me down was suddenly gone. I opened my eyes to see the familiar face of John Watson standing over me, a bloodied bat held in his hands. My attacker lay nearby, groaning as a bloody trail came from a gash that split his forehead in two.

    “John…” I sighed in relief.

    He leaned down and gave me a hand up, gaze focused on my attacker. “What in bloody hells happened here, Mari? One moment I’m trying to calm Sherlock don, the next I’m bashing some bloke’ s head in!” He shook his head in amazement. “And here I thought this would be a nice vacation.”

    I held his arm close. “I’m so sorry, John. I didn’t mean for this to happen. This man came here posing as Sherlock, apparently looking for you. I wasn’t going to let him in, since he had a gun, but he forced his way in and attacked me before I could warn you two.”

    John wrapped an arm around my waist and pressed a chaste kiss to my forehead. “Well, it doesn’t matter now. I’m just glad you’re safe.”

    I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could, a rather obnoxious voice called form the living room. “John! Where is my scarf? I left it right here!”

    John gave an exasperated sigh, giving me a soft smile before barging off. “I told you, it was covered in blood from being used as a tourniquet on YOUR leg, you buffoon! It’s in the wash right now.”

    I followed suit, determined to gather some rope to tie up our sudden guest. Better to keep him immobilized as soon as the police arrived. I could already hear the sirens fast approaching. Hopefully the boys could extract some information, so we could continue this sudden case.

  16. RafTriesToWrite

    I was enjoying the gloomy unlit almost rainy streets of London through my window when someone caught my eye, a man distinctively dressed as a fictional character, created by a famous writer that I’ve never met, but read his books a couple of times, passed by outside but didn’t pay much attention to it.

    It was amusing to see someone dress up as Sherlock Holmes even if it’s not Halloween.

    I continued to savor the joy that is my cup of tea until I heard the doorbell rang. Must be my package, I thought.

    When I opened the door, I was surprised. It was the guy dressed up as Sherlock, but he doesn’t look anything like him.

    “Can I help you?”

    “The name’s Bond, James Bond”

    Oh great! Another psycho.

    “And why are you here Mr. Bond?”

    “I’m investigating the disappearance of my assistant, Watson. John Watson. Ring any bells?”

    “No. Please leave” I was about to close the door on him when he stopped it with his hand.

    “Eric, you are my only suspect as to why my assistant disappeared. Please tell me where to find him”

    How did he?

    “Who are you? How did you know my name?”

    “I saw the happy birthday sign” He pointed the big birthday sign that I’ve forgotten to take off yesterday. For a moment there I thought he…

    “Listen, if you don’t leave now, I will call the police”

    He didn’t seem to be threatened at all.

    “I don’t know who you’re looking for. Leave me alone!” I slammed the door shut with a lot of force and locked it. I can tell he was still there, I haven’t heard his steps yet.

    “I know what you did Eric. You won’t get away with this. I will find Watson if it’s the last thing I do” I spoke gently on the other side of the door, tempting me, taunting me.

    What bothers me is that, does he really know what I did?

    And who is this Watson guy?

    Those blasted minions must’ve grabbed the wrong guy again. This Bond person is going to mess up my plans, but I’m not having it. He must be taken out as well. I walked cautiously to my window, went back to sipping my tea and started plotting.

  17. facelessone

    I punch him in the nose as soon as I recognize who I am speaking to. “Pow! Right in the sniffer!” I say as my straight right hand lands flush on the man’s nose. “I am not fooled. No not I, this is just a sad attempt at a disguise. I would recognize that smug face of yours even if you covered it with a brown paper bag. You fuel wars with your weaponry sir! This one is for peace!” I shout with enthusiasm as I hit him with a right hook square to the jaw. The man flattens to the floor.

    The man quickly begs, “Please sir, stop! I think you have the wrong man!”

    I respond, “You mean to tell me you are not Tony Stark, aka Iron Man…..you know, from all of those average Marvel Movies that I consistently sleep through.”

    The man, “No! Iron Man is not real, I am Robert Downey Jr. Jesus are you mad!?”

    I immediately him him with a left hook, this punch also connects square to his chin, “Pow! Right in the kissa!” I exclaim with glee!

    Robert Downey Jr. turns his head to the side and throws his hands in the air to defend from another punch and shouts, “Why the hell do you keep hitting me!?”

    Without giving him an answer, I instantly run to grab some grated parmesan cheese. There was a container of it recently purchased from the grocery store, in a bag placed down inside my house sitting by the front door. The bag still lay there full of groceries because I was unable to put them away since Robert Downey Jr. had rudely interrupted me.

    I grab the container and proceed to blissfully sprinkle the parmesan cheese all over his smug, battered face, knowing that the parmesan cheese would lead to nasty cystic pimples. He would have to deal with those for weeks. *Hehe* I put down the cheese, and tell him, “You are lucky that I am a such a kind and merciful person. You deserve a lot worse for the kind of mental abuse you made Zach Galifianakis suffer on the film Due Date. Good day Sir!”

    I step over his body, as I stroll back into my house and slam the door. Leaving Robert Downey Jr. just lying there with his newly pimpled, bruised and parmesan cheese covered face. Once I am inside, I get back to the important task of putting away my groceries. Once I am finished, I turn on the television and the film Tropic Thunder pops on to the screen. Not even two seconds roll by before I am forced to see it once again! That arrogant, smug face of his looking back at me! I immediately become outraged and throw my television out the window. Luckily for me, my television lands safely on Robert Downey Jr’s face. I grab a can of salmon from the cupboard, open it up and take a large whiff. I wince from the smell but smile and proceed to mutter to myself, “Oh yes, nice and smelly.” I storm out the door to find Robert Downey Jr. still rolling around and whining where I left him. I dump the can of salmon down his shirt, and say to him, “John Watson, never heard of him.” Then I proceed to punch him one more time, for good measure.

    FIN

  18. chandra_wd_writer

    A knock on the door at this hour is always a trouble. Especially when your neighbor’s house is taped in yellow. From the backyard to the front lawn. A glowing yellow with ‘CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS’ printed in black. Freshly taped twenty-four hours ago.

    I heard a knock, knock-knock actually, on the front door. The gentleness of the knocks suggested it was probably the first knock. But I had no way to know. A gentle knock shouldn’t wake me up from the deep sleep well past midnight. And add three drinks to it and a sleepless night the day before. But I was sleeping on the couch in the living room, and the door was a few feet away. No wonder I heard it.

    There was another knock-knock and then a long pause. I threw my left hand onto the coffee table to find my phone. My hand searched the table mechanically as if it was disconnected from my brain. Before it sensed what it was about to knock down was an empty wine glass, I heard another knock-knock and then the silence. The silence was broken by the wine glass falling onto the floor making a few circles before it rested and brought the silence back.

    Then the knocking took an aggressive turn. I found the phone below my feet when I sat straight. I pressed the home button and glanced down. It was exactly half-past two.

    I opened the security app on my phone and looked at the front door camera. I saw a tall, heavy figure standing at the front door. The shadow behind him reminded me of Sherlock Holmes.

    Why would a detective knock on my door at this time? I understand that Mr. Watson, the wealthy young man next door who moved into our neighborhood two months ago, had disappeared without a trace and his wife’s decomposed body was found in the bedroom yesterday. But what have I got anything to do with that? How can a detective be so heartless to bother an old man like me this late in the night? But that’s what detectives probably do all the time.

    I opened the door without a question. I saw this man yesterday. Searching the neighborhood with a determined suspicion.

    “Hello, Mr. Smith. I am sorry to bother you at this hour. But I have an urgent matter to discuss with you,” he said in a tone that did not suggest it was a ‘matter’ that would be pleasant to discuss.

    “Sure. I understand it’s urgent when a detective knocks an old man’s door well past midnight,” I said with a hint of indignation. I wiped the sweat off my forehead and slid my hands into the pajamas. They were shaking, and I know it’s never a good idea to show nervous hands to detectives.

    “It’s about your son.”

    “What about him? Is he…”

    “To be exact, it’s about your son and the crime next door,” he said in a clarifying tone.

    “I haven’t seen him in a year. I know nothing about his whereabouts. What has he got anything remotely to do with this?”

    “I am afraid to say, but we have our reasons to believe he is our prime suspect now,” he said and picked up the wine glass from the floor and looked through it carefully. He stretched his hand and kept the wine glass beside another wine glass on the opposite corner of the table.

    “Well, you should go find him then. I have no idea where he is or what he is up to,” I said and stood up from the couch. I wanted no more of this. I wasn’t going to talk about my son. Actually, I never wanted to think about him. Not until last week.

    He stood up and scanned the hall carefully from corner to corner, pausing briefly on the kitchen window. It was open. And took a determined look at my face and folded his hands.

    “I have no idea where my son is. I haven’t heard a word from in a year. Or maybe years. I would be more than happy to talk to you tomorrow if this can wait. I am half awake, and I don’t want to regret later about what I say now.”

    He turned around and took a look at the shoe stand and then at my naked feet. And then back at the large boots beside a pair of orthopedic shoe for old men.

    He left without a word. No goodbyes. I waited for the car sound to take a right turn at the end of our street.

    I took my phone. It was in airplane mode. I had no idea how it went into that mode. I toggled it and saw a message that I was afraid would come when the detective was there.

    It was from my son. He messaged me four hours ago. We were supposed to take the first train out of the town.

    “Get out of the house. Right now. See you tomorrow. Don’t forget to bring the bag.”

    It was a few hours before dawn, and I had to find a way to dispose of the body. Mr. Watson had been rotting for a few days. It was time to relieve him of the trouble.

  19. JRSimmang

    ALONG THE THAMES

    Breakfast left me in a sour mood, no doubt influenced poorly by the unmistakable stench of rotted garbage wafting in through my north-facing window, so when faced with the prospect of hosting a farewell gala for a dear colleague of mine I was left desperate for any way out.

    “But, you’ve known him since secondary school, Robert.”

    “I’m weary of my gut.”

    “You’re weary of how he’ll see you.”

    War left me ravaged, and the times of comfort that came after afforded me much distress. My waistcoats had to be exchanged for new ones, ones that could be used as a saddle blanket. I looked down at my midsection, disgusted. “Used to be I could carry people across enemy lines. I carried John over my shoulder, him bleeding from the artery in his neck, and laid him on a horse.”

    “And, now you have the wisdom that comes with it.”

    “Wisdom. Nice way of saying ‘excess weight.'”

    Ruth-Anne patted my lapel, smoothing it out. “You’re just as handsome today as you were when I met you, Dr Murray.”

    “And you,” I smiled, “have only become more radiant.”

    She kissed me on the cheek. “You’ll be fine, Robert. Just be your usual charming self.”

    That evening, we all waited patiently in the parlour. The Demmings, the Stewards, the Lochlans and Hopstons, the well-to-dos and friends of John snacked on the hors d’ouvres and refreshments, I in the center, barely able to contain my sweat, trying to be congenial.

    “You say he’ll be here soon, Robert?” asked Guillard Toquay, the preeminent astronomical physicist at King’s.

    “I assume he’s simply out on one of his quests with that friend of his.”

    “Holmes?”

    “Yes, Holmes. I do believe that’s it. I’ve never personally met the man.”

    “Neither have I,” he concurred. “Well, I do hope he isn’t out too late. I have a lecture in the morning.”

    “My practice will not wait for me.”

    “There’s someone in the drive!” shouted one of our guests. “Quickly, hiding places!”

    There was a shuffle of feet, some curses as people bumped into others and sloshed drinks, then silence.

    I stood where I was, relieved to not be surrounded by so many warm bodies.

    There was a knock, then a second one in a different location. Then, “Mr Murray? This party was planned for someone else, someone you and I both know, and I would like to speak with you in private.”

    Our guests groaned as they stood and found their positions around the serving tables and hearth.

    I stepped to the door, opened it, and before me was a shriveled man, his hair hardly contained atop his head, and the creases on his face telling of a past speckled with poisons, diseases, and heartbreak. “You must be-”

    “Holmes. Yes. Now, let’s get past the pleasantries and- are those prawns?”

    Holmes pointed past me to the table of appetizers. I caught the whiff of sulphur, which did not help my stomach issues, and almost caused me to wretch there and then before saying “yes. My god man, where have you been? Battersea on the Thames?”

    “Might I-” he took a step back, and I could only gather the faintest scent of confusion on his face. “Why… yes. How did you know?”

    “That smell, sir.”

    “Ah, good nose.”

    “Thank you?”

    “You’re certainly welcome.” His face changed again, and he stopped himself before stepping over my threshold. “Your guests won’t mind if I pull you outside for a few moments? Judging by the effect the hookworms currently residing in your gullet are having on your constitution, I take you’d need the air.”

    Hookworms? I thought. Now how in the world?

    “Of course, you wouldn’t remember,” he said as he took my sleeve and ushered me out into the cold air, which, admittedly, did feel stupendous. “You and John met three days ago at the Good Olde Friar. It was there you both consumed an inordinate amount of cod and beer.”

    “Oh, I, umm, yes. Ah, my jacket.”

    “No, you’re wearing- uh, yes. Your jacket has the tell-tale signs.”

    “I gather.”

    “So, you must naturally know that, then, John is now missing.”

    I stopped suddenly, my knees buckling out from under me, and I drooped into Holmes’s arms. “Missing?”

    “Since yesterday.”

    “Yesterday?”

    “Come now, sir. It won’t do if you keep repeating me.”

    “Sorry,” I managed. “But, I… I’m… you think I have something to do with this?”

    “Dr Murray, I believe you are the culprit.”

    Part 2 to follow

    -JR Simmang

      1. JRSimmang

        Never mind, it’s not hookworms. Maybe it’s snockered. At any rate, I’ll have to put Part 2 up on my blog (jrsimmang.blogspot.com) since I’m unable to post it here (unless I can convince Jess to wave her magic wand over it).

  20. jhowe

    John Watson stood at the door and shook his head. The well-dressed, if not garish gentleman restated his case.

    “So it appears, Watson, you’ve finally succeeded in doing yourself in.”

    “I can assure you, Mr.… what is it, Holmes?” Watson was amazed he knew the old coot’s name. “I can assure you I’m quite alive.”

    “Yes, I’m still trying to establish that detail,” Holmes said. “But other than that, you should be dead. I practically held the death warrant in my hand.”

    “But here I stand; so if you don’t mind, I have matters in which to attend.” Watson scratched his head. His manner of speech surprised him. He was more of a drawler, he thought.

    “The answer must be, Watson, oh how did I manage to overlook the elementary; the answer is time travel.”

    If Watson hadn’t the nagging feeling something was wrong, he would’ve slammed the door in the antique bastard’s face.

    “So, you’re saying I’m from the past?”

    “Indeed. What other explanation is there?” Holmes waved he arms as he spoke. “It makes perfect sense. Just before you died, you somehow managed to travel forward in time. Ingenious.”

    “But how, then, did you arrive in this time period?” Watson said.

    “A perfectly valid question.”

    “Well?” Watson said.

    “I wish I had the solution.”

    “As do I, Mr. Holmes.” With that, Watson slammed the door shut. He ignored the persistent knocking which eventually stopped. Sweat beaded on Watson’s forehead and he steadied himself on a chair back. Everything around him seemed foreign. Strange furnishings bewildered him and he ran to the door and flung it open. No one was there. His face grew hot, pain shot through his ears and all went black.

    Watson opened his eyes, mere slits, but the glaring light all but blinded him. Sherlock Holmes stood over him, dabbing his face with a cool cloth.

    “Ah, he is delivered from the gates of hell,” Holmes said.

    “What happened?”

    “My dear Watson, next time you go on a bender, limit yourself to one bottle.”

    Watson put his hand to his aching head and shielded his eyes. His stomach lurched. Holmes quickly handed him a chamber pot and turned his back.

    Always the gentleman, Watson thought as he emptied his stomach.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Neat converrsation between the two, and I liked the twist at the finish. Maybe the good doctor will switch to Old Crow and if he does, two bottles will definitely kill. Nice approach John. I found this a difficult prompt to work with but I’m not complsiing. It is an interesting one. .

  21. rlk67

    My two-year-old was pulling at my leg as I tried to juggle a coffee, a plate of toast, and a mound of paperwork. The house was a wreck, and I had a teleconference scheduled in eight minutes. Then the knock came.

    I nearly dropped my food on the keyboard, and feeling very annoyed, I opened the door. Oh, no. Sherlock Holmes? Memories came back of that red-bearded man in the alley who stuck a locket with a four-leaf clover in my hand way back when.

    I sighed. “Can I help you, sir?”

    “Hmmm…carnauba wax on the mailbox. You’ve been with a Postie last night, haven’t you?”

    “I beg your pardon?”

    “And pizza for brekkie? Not so healthy.”

    “Wait. How did you know what I had for…”

    “Elementary, my dear Mrs. Smith. There’s a pizza box in your garbage with cocamidopropyl on the front. You rushed out of the shower with shampoo on your fingers and…

    “Ok, never mind. And I was not with a…postie?…last night. And how do you know my name?”

    “Ha! Smith. Quite common. And lucky guessing. But lets dispense of the formalities.” At this point, Sherlock changed into a deep baritone voice. “You are suspect in the disappearance of John Watson.”

    Oh, how lovely. And my teleconference starts in four minutes. “You mean the ‘Come here I need you, Watson’ Watson?”

    “No, No! Not that one. A different one. One who is not the same. He is different. He is simply not the same. I’m trying to be clear. Am I being clear?”

    “Look, I didn’t kidnap anyone if that’s what you’re saying, and…”

    “John Watson, Madam! The British boxer from Liverpool! He has been missing since yesterday, and he loved pasta. Well, Madam, there are traces of tortelini, ziti, and Dorset Cheddar on your Peruvian Lilies!”

    I glanced down at my two-year-old. Oh, that’s where he dumped lunch yesterday. Two minutes until teleconference time. Think.

    “Well, detective. It’s like this. It seems someone beat you to it. You see, I am currently under house arrest by Monsieur Poirot, and he…”

    “POIROT?! IMPOSSIBLE! THAT MAGGOT! BUT HOW…?”

    “He mentioned something about finding animony and indium from an iphone 8 consistent with transient diaphragmatic spasm and hydrocephalus due to frenzied inattentiveness…”

    Sherlock just stared.

    “However if you would like to come back next Wednesday, I’m having a tea with Lord Wimsey after this is all cleared up.”

    “Oh, my. Yes, that would be extraordinarily…”

    SLAM! And forty-five seconds to spare.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, rlk!

      I really enjoyed this story, but especially this whole part:
      “POIROT?! IMPOSSIBLE! THAT MAGGOT! BUT HOW…?”
      “He mentioned something about finding animony and indium from an iphone 8 consistent with transient diaphragmatic spasm and hydrocephalus due to frenzied inattentiveness…”
      Sherlock just stared.”

      😀

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I so enjoyed this. Years ago I wrote something about getting rid of annoying folks by giving too much information. Works every time.

  22. cosi van tutte

    Someone knocked on my door.

    At first, it was a polite one-fist knock. “Knock. Knock.” Just so. Very polite.

    I set down my newspaper and stretched.

    If they were being that polite, clearly there was no need to rush.

    “Knock. Knock.” escalated rather fast to “knockknockknockknockknockKNOCKKNOCKKNOCK!”

    Well!

    That wasn’t very polite at all. I suppose I would have to answer it, after all.

    What a bother.

    I shuffled to the door in my house slippers and best dressing gown. I opened the door.

    An impudent young man with tossled hair, bright brown eyes, and a slight smirk stood on the other side.

    “May I help you?”

    He clapped his hands together. “Maybe.” His voice had a lazy drawl to it as if he’d just woke from a deep sleep. “You see, I…uhh…seem to be missing my personal assistant. He left my house at 2:34 in the morning to buy me a box of almond biscotti with no cranberries. Cranberries are abominations, just saying. He hasn’t come back, yet.”

    “Well. That is very tragic.”

    “Oh, it is. You see, it’s very hard for me to get through my day without my biscotti. It makes me all jittery and moody and no one like to see me all messed up like that. It isn’t nice. I’m sure you understand.”

    “No. Not—”

    “Anyway, I would appreciate it if you could uhh.” His smirk grew. “Pull my personal assistant out of your coat closet.”

    I startled. “There is no one in my coat closet.”

    “Uh-huh. Yeah. See? Here’s the thing. I can smell his stink of desperation through the walls of this house.” He shook his head. “Be glad that your nose isn’t as sensitive as mine. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

    “I tell you there is no one in my coat closet.”

    “Uh-huh. Yeah. Right.” He shoved me out of the way and entered my domain.

    “Uhh. Excuse me?”

    He sniffed the air. “Yep. Found him.” He sauntered over to my coat closet and flung the door open. “Hello, my dear ugly squid.”

    John Watson-Malarkey let out an anguished yell. “IT ISN’T FAIR!”

    “Yeah. Yeah. Come on, squid boy.” He grabbed him by his lapels and dragged him out. “Time to get me my biscotti before I start to get the jitters.”

    I did not like the looks of this scene. So, I simply had to interfere. “Excuse me, sir. But who are you to
    be hauling away this poor innocent man as if he were a criminal?”

    “Not getting me my biscotti when I ask for it IS a crime. As for who I am, I am Robert D. Holmes. My best bosom buddies call me Sherlock.”

    1. jhowe

      Pretty cool, Cosi. I recognized Mr. D’s voice as I read, and I kept thinking, how is she going to do this? Well, you did it. very enjoyable. And I agree, cranberries are an abomination.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Cosi, fun piece. I didn’t recognize your character, may he’s from before I started here, or I’m just forgetting more than I remember.

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