|Short Story (fanfiction) - Silence of Deeper Things
||[Jun. 28th, 2010|11:51 pm]
Written for prompt 202 over at tamingthemuse.
The first part of a Holmes/Watson pastichey story. Set around "The Final Problem" but presumed to be written after the fact (and, at some point after Holmes' miraculous return, being given to Holmes himself to read.) Framing story, much? Anyway, there's barely a start here. Some day I'll get back to it (probably when a prompt fits really well.)
Silence of Deeper Things (part 1) (short story, 966 words, first draft)
As necessitated by the terms of our wager, though I blush to see such raw writing again after so many years. You must forgive my indulgence in sentiments which you will no doubt consider to be overwrought. Should you wish to prevent a recurrence, you need only refrain from dying in the future.
Your servant always,
* * *
I must begin by simply putting my pen to paper, though I am certain that what will flow from it is unfit to be read. Several times I have tried to put this final problem to rest, and yet -- what shape will this story take when it is made to fit within the boundaries of decency? I am not yet convinced that any significant part of it will survive these necessary omissions. Perhaps later, when the wound is not yet so fresh that a stray thought can cause a melancholy one afternoon and a desperate restlessness the next, I will more properly put the great Sherlock Holmes to rest, along with my literary career, such that it was.
I never thought that I could know so strange a man so well. The company that I have kept in my life has certainly been varied, but always with men of a particular vein: men with similar interests, of my own class and breeding, sharing reliable but diverting conversation at the club or over a game of billiards. It has never been thus with Holmes. One evening might find him bursting with enthusiasm on a myriad topics from chemical discoveries to Russian composers, so hungry for discussion that I would finally excuse myself with much yawning at two in the morning. But it was in silence that Holmes truly reveled, and I often found myself equally spellbound by the intensity and stillness of his silence which more than anything reflected the cacophony that had dwelled in his splendid mind.
There is a hollowness to silence, now. The unfathomable depth of it threatens to swallow me, like the Reichenbach falls have done to the master of silence. I am descending into sensationalism, I am aware, though for once I will indulge myself with no regard for him, nor propriety. It is becoming evident that these pages will likely never again see the light of day. Perhaps it is here, then, that I can exorcise a demon that has haunted me since the beginning of this last adventure.
It was upon the evening of April 24th that he arrived, more gaunt and pale than I had seen him during even his most intense work. Having closed my shutters for fear of air guns, he began to describe to me the movements of a certain Professor Moriarty. I have extensive notes detailing this conversation, but knowing now the eventual outcome of events I have not the heart to revisit them at this time. He was greatly agitated as he spoke, but the wounds on his knuckles required attention, so I took up my bandages and iodine and approached him slowly and casually as one might do to a wild animal.
As I reached for his hand his gaze met mine, and I saw -- for the first and last time -- a quiet fear in the eyes of Sherlock Holmes. I had expected one extreme or the other, either a quiet calm or a frenzy of fear, but this was an emotion much more personal. It shook me deeply.
"My dear Watson," he said, quietly, "perhaps it is better that I visit the continent alone."
I turned my full attention to his raw and bleeding knuckles. "I won't hear of it."
"I fear that I have become a most dangerous companion."
"I have shared many a danger with you, Holmes."
"You stand fast?" I looked up to see a small smile on his face, but that same fear lurking in his grey eyes.
He was quiet for some time, and seeing that his eyes were no longer on me but on his own secret inner workings, I indulged myself in studying him. I saw the lines in his face and wondered how many of them had slowly come to bear in the years we had known each other. His cool hand was warming within my own. He was a man of contradictions, a war of frenetic impulse and logic, but he did bleed when pricked.
"Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure," he said, though his eyes did not yet come out of their reverie. I had finished my work on his hand but I had not moved away. He turned his gaze on me. Still, that fear lingered.
"Men love in haste but they detest at leisure," I finished.
"This is the way of men such as the ex-Professor Moriarty," he said. "I dare say his languid pace in dispatching me has afforded him more harm than pleasure."
I did not say what I thought -- that Holmes had perhaps drawn out this contest longer than common sense had strictly required. Four months he had been dogging the man. But he must have read some part of that thought, as he had done more than once before as an exercise of his deductive abilities. A small smile came to his lips.
"There is yet still time for some hasty pleasures."
It is impossible for me now -- for so many reasons -- to fully describe the feelings that this phrase invoked in me. Fear, apprehension, confusion, longing; they are all intermingled now, tempered with a profound sadness. It is this sadness that overcomes me now, the silence that does not speak of deeper things. And so I will lay down my pen and walk with Mary where even the heat of summer cannot stop the noise of five million people living and breathing without a spider to tend to their web.