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Hope: The Woman Part One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOPE

The Woman, Part One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L. W. BROOK

Copyright © 2017 AMSER STUDIOS

All rights reserved.

Original Sherlock Holmes Stories By:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This work is a part of AMSER STUDIOS and falls within the “Experimental Collection”.

HOPE

The Woman, Part One

 

A Novelette

 

Hope blinks through the darkness. Her pupils are dilated, but they’re not retrieving any light. It’s too dark. She can’t see.

Her breathing is airy, raspy. It’s hard to breathe with her knees tucked so tightly against her chest.

She licks her bottom lip and fumbles for her phone.

At her touch, the screen dimly lights the tight space she’s tucked herself within.

It’s a metal box not nearly big enough for a woman her size.

In fact, it’s a miracle she’s managed to fit in it at all.

Pipes cling to the metal wall at Hope’s back. Aside from the plumbing, she’s alone.

Hope’s breath ghosts the cellular device as she looks it over.

At the sound of approaching footsteps, she stops breathing and clenches her jaw.

When they stop, she speed dials Gregson.

His voice is mostly static as he answers, “To what do I owe the pleasure? Have you magically stumbled upon another murder victim, or what?”

“Gregson, I’m-” Hope winces at her own voice crack.

Something moves outside of the box Hope is balled within. She can’t see it, but she can hear it.

Male.

Heavy, uneven gaunt.

“I think he’s coming back.” She whispers into the phone.

“Holmes? Where are you? I can’t seem to catch a proper signal.” Gregson’s voice calls through the static.

“H-he’s here-”

“We’re tracking your call. Just remain-”

The metal door slides back in one fluid motion. Like a jack in the box, Hope’s legs pop out to sprawl around Dr. Watson’s feet.

Her expression is absolutely void of emotion as the doctor stares just as dully back.

“What are you doing under the sink?”

Hope carefully covers the mouthpiece of her phone before explaining, “I'm conducting a social experiment. I'm timing Gregson's response times to my own call as well as four others he'll be receiving throughout the day. One a child, another an elderly woman- I even got his best friend involved-”

“Oh, no-” Dr. Watson snatches the phone out of Hope’s weak and crippled grasp. “Hope, you’re a child. You’re going to give the poor man a heart attack.”

Hope crawls out of the tight kitchen sink, which forces Dr. Watson to step off to the side so that she doesn’t trample over him.

Dr. Watson swiftly shuts the lower kitchen cabinet and then raises Hope’s phone to his ear. “Hello? Detective Gregson, is that you?”

Hope stands to her full height and brushes any loose dust off of her back and thighs.

Neck straight, Hope sways like a cat looking back at it’s prey.

“Fat blocked arteries and high levels of glucose are to be the cause of his heart failure.” Hope drones is her usual monotone. “I’ll have nothing to do with it.”

Dr. Watson plugs one ear to drown out Hope as he listens to Gregson with the other.

“Yes, she’s at the flat. Yes,” he nods in agreement. “I know she’s a child.”

Hope sways a turn back to the door and walks abruptly out of the room.

“I’m not her keeper.” Dr. Watson drones to the ceiling. “Oh, and Gregson-” He darts a glance to the door, then turns his shoulder on the entrance and lowers his voice to suggest, “Perhaps you should still drop by. No, no, no… I mean for a quick physical. Your health is concerning.”

From the doorway, Hope emerges, violin in hand. Eyes on Dr. Watson, she botches the first chord and then continues to miss every note thereafter.

It’s loud, off key, and deliberate.

Dr. Watson presses into his right ear with the palm of his hand in an attempt to drown out the noise.

“What was that? Gregson?” Dr. Watson turns his back on Hope, but he’s trapped within a tiny kitchen complete with one window and a single, blocked exit.

Dr. Watson's brows twist and mouth quirks. “My word- No need to get rude. We all make bad decisions from time to time. I-... What was that?” Quickly, he removes the phone from his ear and hangs up. “Hmmph.”

Hope freezes mid note.

Dr. Watson looks down at the glass device and mutters, “Couldn’t hear a blasted thing.”

—-

Eight Hours Earlier…

Hope and Dr. Watson stare down at a metal box that sits in the center of their dining table. It’s roughly five in the morning, yet a package arrived at their doorstep not ten minutes prior.

“Well?” Dr. Watson mumbles. His lips twist to a downward set and brows furrow in sleepy aggravation.

“Hmm?” Hope does a double take at the doctor beside her, then fastens her emotionless gaze back to the metal case of something unidentifiable. “I didn’t hear you come down.”

Blueish gray eyes dart to the dark roots of Hope’s short, combed hair. “I’ve been standing beside you for five minutes.”

“I’ve been preoccupied.”

“Noisy, too.”

Hope takes an abrupt step back from the table.

“Noisy, yes. I awoke at the sound of a pop. A loud one. The hovercraft used to transport this package is of an older make.” Hope kneels on the ground. “No sign of being processed-”

“For god’s sake,” Dr. Watson mutters with a step up to the table and grab at the metal case, “it’s a bin.” Carelessly, he slides the lid off of the metal container and, instinctively, Hope grabs at his arm just a moment too late.

There’s an odd pause as they wait there, Hope’s hand bruising the bare flesh of Dr. Watson’s right arm.

The lid has already been partially removed, but still the ex-forensic analyst refuses to let go.

“Hope…” Dr. Watson prompts. “It’s safe.”

It’s a stiff motion, but Hope does manage to retract her hand back to her side.

Satisfied, Dr. Watson releases a tired breath and pulls the container closer to his side of the table. He removes the lid with one fast motion and flips it on it’s back to show his flatmate there’s nothing fused to it’s belly. It’s then he looks down at the container’s contents and grins.

Hope glances repeatedly from the box, to Dr. Watson, to the box again.

Giggling, Dr. Watson pulls out a plaid deer stalker hat and tosses it at Hope’s chest. She catches it mid-air and then gives it an apprehensive look over.

“You know what this means, right?” The doctor asks after unloading a violin, bow, and cape with a print similar to that of the double fronted hat.

Hope turns the hat around in her hands, then mumbles, “Moriarty has finished setting the field… It’s time for another round.”

Dr. Watson lifts the bow of the violin into his hand and points it at the cape, followed by the hat in Hope’s hand. “You can officially cosplay.”

“The pipe was confiscated as evidence.”

Dr. Watson gives an idle shrug, then yawns through a cat-like stretch. “I hope you play.” He muses with a tired set of the bow upon the violin.

Without waiting for a response, he pulls out a chair and plops down on it’s base. Hand to his cheek, he stares expectantly at his morning entertainment. “I love a good tune to brighten the spirits.” He mumbles.

Hope stares blankly at the doctor, then the violin.

Carefully, she sets down the hat to instead pick up the instrument set out before her.

Her fingers are nimble on the delicate strings as she sets the violin into position.

Ever so gently she glides the bow over the strings of the instrument, which is why it’s so surprising to all in the building when it releases a choked cry of despair.

Hope’s brows knit at the just as loud and obnoxious pull back of the bow.

Confusion.

She doesn’t understand what she’s doing wrong.

And neither does Dr. Watson.

Abruptly, she lifts the bow from the strings and darts a look to her audience.

Dr. Watson sits at the table, his chin in his hand and frown set across his scrunched in features.

“That was awful.” He says to break the silence.

Hope gives a half hearted shrug at the scrutiny. “Nobody’s perfect.” She says with a set of her bow and violin down upon her new cape.

“You think this is what exempts you from perfection?”

“I believe perfection can only be made by man, not possessed.” Hope retorts. Her bare fingertips ghost the material of the violin’s strings.

No serial number.

The violin has been well cared for, but it’s old.

The lightest wear on the hollow of the chin piece, the smallest of scratches in the wood of the instrument’s body… New strings, regularly polished…

But the violin itself is a hand me down.

What could the significance of that be, Hope wonders.

Perhaps it belongs to their perpetrator?

Hope lifts a dark brow at the thought, then flashes a look to Dr. Watson.

The older man is staring back at her from his seat at the table. His chin rests in the palm of his hand as if he were caught up in the moment, and yet… his eyes are focused on the ex-forensic analyst rather than a setting sun or proper musician.

“You’ve deduced something, haven’t you?” He mumbles.

The street lights outside the windows barely manage to illuminate the inside of the flat, but when a government issue hovercraft passes by, it’s brights engulf the room before quickly fading out. In that brief moment, Hope’s obsessively neat features brighten before falling back into the shadows.

Dr. Watson wonders for just a beat how long it’ll be before she pushes her cleanliness obsession out of the way to obsess over something else… something perhaps a little more life threatening.

Hope looks back to the violin and retracts her hand.

“The violin is important.” She explains.

Dr. Watson looks down at the seemingly new instrument and then the apparel. “What about the hat and cape?”

Hope swipes the phone from her front pocket and glides her fingers across the screen. It takes only a second for a ray of light to beam down from the glass device. “Irrelevant.” Her hands hold the device above the instrument, then scan up and down it’s length. “I’m sure it’s nothing more than a gag.”

“I disagree.”

Hope looks down at the three dimensional image of the violin she’s just scanned and murmurs, “That so?”

Dr. Watson leans back in his chair and crosses his arms over his chest. “He packaged it up, sent it here… I think he wants you to wear it.”

Hope snaps her head abruptly away from her illegal search of the violin’s origin to meet serious gray/blue. “He doesn’t.”

“I think he does.”

Hope glides her sight over to the apparel laid out upon the table and again tries to analyze it. There’s nothing particularly odd about the clothing.

Hand made, of course, but it’s without a tag and even if they were successful in tracking the origin of the cloth and finding the manufacturer of the garments it would no doubt end with just that fact.

It’s not a clue, not a slip up…

But it is intentional, is it not?

“Why?” Is what she accidentally lets slip.

“He’s recreating a fantasy, Hope.” Dr. Watson’s lip quivers, but the make-shift detective is too preoccupied to notice. “You need to dress the part.”

Hope’s algorithm hits a snag.

The entire cellular device short circuits, flashes with light, and then shuts off.

Dr. Watson’s eyes burn from the sudden flash of light that has engulfed the room. His eyes, mouth, and nose stretch through a pained motion as he tries to blink sight back to his eyes. “What.” He rubs at his eyes, then leans forward to squint at a just as stunned Sherlock Holmes. “Was that?”

Hope reaches for a chair, misses, then reaches again. Once her hand comes into contact with the back of her seat, she pulls it out and falls upon it.

Roughly, she slams the device down upon the table and taps a few times at the side of her head. “Umm.” She humms with a scoot closer to the table. “Either my algorithm short circuited my device, or it breached an unusually high level of After World security and we will shortly be finding ourselves once again in the hands of the law.”

Hope’s fingers burn from touching the over heated device, but she does not hesitate it taking it apart piece by piece.

One by one the outer layers and core are unraveled to reveal the holographic circuits within the modern After World phone.

“Are those meant to come apart like that?” Dr. Watson asks with a point to what he could have sworn was just a clear slab of glass.

Hope drops the last piece onto the table and blows at her reddened fingertips.

Dr. Watson peers through the dim lighting. “You’re burnt.”

“I’m aware.”

The doctor frowns when Hope, again, makes grabs for the heated pieces of fiber infused glass. She’s touching all of the pieces, inspecting them, with a complete disregard for her burning flesh.

Obsession.

Dr. Watson may not be a psychiatrist, but the signs are evident.

Hope can’t control herself.

If she finds a puzzle, she has to solve it.

No matter the consequence.

“Well.” Dr. Watson stands from the table. He’s fairly certain Hope can no longer see nor hear him, but he feels the need to speak, regardless. “I’m going to catch a wink before the police slap on the cuffs.”

He waits a moment more beside the young woman, then mumbles, “I’ll check up on you in the morning.” and walks away.

Obsession…

It unnerves Dr. Watson to think that perhaps Hope has more to gain from this ordeal than lose.

—-

Hope mopes on the couch in her secluded area of the flat. The curtain has been pulled back to reveal the young woman and the violin within her hand.

She plucks at the strings, but the bow used to make the music has been confiscated. It now sits beside Dr. Watson’s tablet.

Dr. Watson lifts his white tea glass up from it’s saucer and takes a sip. At the swallow his lips part and a satisfied hiss escapes them.

Gently, he sets the cup back down onto it’s saucer.

He’s very aware of the dead look Hope is sending his way, but he ignores it. Instead, he focuses on his tablet and the half written log post he’s written upon it.

Another pluck at a chord fills the dead air.

And another.

“It’s not going to work.” Dr. Watson mumbles.

Hope plucks another string.

“My concentration is impenetrable.” He mutters under his breath.

The phone in Dr. Watson’s pant pocket vibrates against the material between it and his leg. “Oh.” His brows twist as he drops his tablet’s back against the table and fishes for his phone.

His confusion doesn’t settle upon seeing the caller I.D.

In fact, the look in his eye only darkens.

Unknown

Hope jumps up from the couch and leaves her violin behind without a second thought on the matter. Swiftly, she slides into the seat beside Dr. Watson’s and he looks to her.

There’s a curious spark buried in light blue as she looks back to him.

Dr. Watson taps his finger against the screen and, very steadily, raises the device to his ear. His body is tense and brow drawn in as says, “Dr. Watson, here.”

Not a second later the doctor’s body drains with relief. Through a smile, he explains, “It’s a fan of my log.”

“Highly improbable.”

Dr. Watson shoots Hope a look of pure annoyance, then covers his right ear to better hear with his left. “Yes, yes. Why, thank you.” He grins at whatever compliments this stranger is feeding him.

Hope slumps against the chair she’s seated within. Bored. Boring. Dull.

Her foot starts to tap repetitiously against the ground. She needs to get her hands on something, but the flat is already spotless and the cases seem to have run dry.

At least Dr. Watson has a log to write.

“Well, I-” Dr. Watson glances at his flatmate. The young woman’s practically become one with the furniture. “I should think so, yes.” He grins and reaches for the corner of his glass tablet. Idly, he slides his fingers over it’s smooth edge. “Of course. Leave it to us!” He boasts.

Hope’s mood quirks.

Us.

Dr. Watson pulls his phone from his ear and slams it’s face down upon the table. He’s absolutely beaming as he announces, “We have a case!”

“I find your fervor contagious.”

“You should! This one pays. Handsomely.”

Hope sinks back into her chair at the words. “I decline.” She mutters to the table.

“You’re joking.”

“Quite serious, actually.”

“You hadn't moved in hours!” Dr. Watson barks with a gesture to the velvet couch Hope has taken a liking to. “What's so bad about a paid gig?” He touches his chest, then, as he confesses, “My pension can't buy a loaf of bread- and god knows your debts aren't going anywhere.”

“It doesn’t matter, I refuse.” Hope seethes. “Henry and his family deserve bankruptcy.”

Dr. Watson goes quiet. There’s hidden emotion, there. Resentment.

“You already knew?” He asks.

Hope shrugs. It’s childish and unclear, but she does it nonetheless. “He confronted me at the wedding.” She admits. “A paid ‘gig’, as you say, so soon after? People like him don’t understand the meaning of the word no. They believe themselves to be above all… A day or two on the streets could serve his ego well.”

Dr. Watson bites his lip and looks away.

His eyes drift down to his unlit tablet and still. He’s thinking over his words as though there were a correct response.

Finally, he settles for, “It must have been hard for you in the orphanage.”

“On the contrary, an orphanage would have been the second best option had Mycroft’s family not taken me in.”

Dr. Watson feels a pang kick deep within his chest.

“You lived on the streets.” He clarifies.

After a minute of no response, Dr. Watson risks a look at his flatmate.

Another pang strikes through him upon making contact with her cold, ice blue gaze. It’s like she doesn’t feel anything.

There’s absolutely no emotion within them.

No excitement, no worry, no fear, no anger…

The gaze is dead.

“I grew up alone in one of many underground shelters. It was not difficult, nor painful. It was reality… something people like Henry are not fortunate enough to experience.”

Dr. Watson gives a slow, steady nod that ends with his gaze hitting the table. “We can hold out a little longer.” He decides with a reach for his tablet.

Silently, he turns it back on and reads over the last passage of his log post.

—-

“And where is Sherlock?” Henry asks with a walk around his spacious office. He holds Dr. Watson’s guilty eye contact as he adjusts his tie and pulls up a seat.

The man’s office lacks sentiment.

There are few objects along his table, walls, and shelves, but all objects that are present cannot be worth less than a small fortune.

Windows extend along the wall at Dr. Watson’s left while but a single tinted door sits at his right.

The space is both open and entrapping at the same time.

“Right, well.” Dr. Watson breaks the eye contact and clears his throat.

When Henry gestures to the seats before his desk, the doctor humbly obliges.

“Hope would like me to asses whether or not this case is, umm...” He gestures vaguely with his hand. “A case worthy- uhh- of the great, umm...”

“Sherlock Homes.” Henry finishes.

“We’re trying to stay away from that, but, uhh… Essentially yes, yes.” The poor bloke nods and shifts in discomfort.

It’s no wonder Hope turned this case down.

This man is completely one sided.

He knows you, but you will never know him.

Heaven forbid you allow him to know you better than you know yourself.

“Ah, right, yes.” Henry chuckles out. “Moriarty, isn’t it? Almost hard to believe the events in your log are real.”

“Very real.” Dr. Watson assures. “To me, Moriarty is just another name for death.”

“He’s going to get you?” Henry asks from across the table.

Dr. Watson doesn’t hesitate in responding, “I fear he’s going to get all of us.”

—-

Dr. Watson limps up the steps of 221B. His motions are heavy, tired, and more than a little tipsy.

Dr. Watson stops at the top of the stairs to lean heavily against the railing. “Oh…” He moans with a grab at his temple.

His mind is swimming.

He can’t even remember what the wealthy bastard had wanted at this point.

The doctor makes a right pivot to skip over the door to their main living space and instead invade the sectioned off kitchen beside it.

The space for cooking is small, but more than enough room for two kitchen novices.

Drowsily, Dr. Watson limps inside the naturally lit space and reaches for the cupboard. It takes him two tries to find the one with glasses in it, but then it’s smooth sailing as he fills it with carefully proportioned sink water.

His bottom lip quivers when he presses the glass against it. The man’s hand then does a similar spasm when he goes to set the drink down.

Deep breaths.

Dr. Watson leans against the counter and takes a heavy breath. After a beat, he lets it out and tries another grab at his water.

It’s far more controlled than his first attempt.

“Mmph.” Dr. Watson huffs just before slamming his glass back down upon the counter. He could use a good nap right about now.

Dr. Watson rinses out his glass, then sets it down upon the auto-drying rack for all of ten seconds before the system’s humming stops and he puts the glass back into the single missing gap of Hope’s perfectly organized collection.

He swears that girl has two people living inside that tiny body of hers.

One day she’s cleaning the dust out of corners with cotton swabs, the next she’s exploding pigs in their living room.

Dr. Watson humms through the motions of turning and walking out of the kitchen. He’s careful to avoid the broken lock pad in fear of being cut by one of the many pointed shards sticking out of the wall. Instead, he pushes the door inward and steps through without a second thought on the matter.

That is…

Unit he finds Hope pinned to his favorite arm chair by a woman of considerable height and beauty.

The woman’s dark hair curls to the waist of her little black dress. She’s wearing strappy heels that draw the eye to dramatic curves and finally pale green eyes.

Painted red lips quirk upon catching sight of the new arrival.

The woman then grins when the much smaller woman beneath her mutters, “I can explain.”

—-

Dr. Watson eyes his phone, then pockets it. His meeting with Henry is drawing near.

“Problem?”

Dr. Watson starts from within his armchair. His eyes dart immediately to the ex-forensic analyst plucking at strings from across the room.

She’s been staring at him, observing his nervous ticks and jitters.

“Well, I-” He stops mid-sentence to take a breath and stand. At his full height, he looks down upon Hope. “I feel like grabbing a pint. Care to join me?”

Hope drops her line of sight at the inquiry. “No.” She mutters in disinterest.

Dr. Watson nods at his own clever deceit. “Shouldn’t be long.” He assures, not that Hope is in any way showing him her attention.

Instead she plucks idly at the violin’s strings.

The ground is her latest object of interest.

Nodding again, Dr. Watson turns with a smile and makes his way toward the door.

He stops but once at the closed doorway to look back at Hope.

It’s in that moment he feels a pang of guilt for not telling her he’s proceeding with the case on his own.

…In her name.

Then he remembers the time she tried to get him shot in the shoulder and, like magic, the guilt fades away.

Dr. Watson huffs an amused little noise as he unlocks the flat’s door with a tap at a screen and walks out.

The hunk of wood and metal swings shut after he steps through, but it does little to dull the man’s uneven tapping.

Hope stills any and all movements to listen as the last of the steps are taken until the front door, too, closes in the good doctor’s wake.

One, two, three…

Hope stands abruptly from her seat and scurries to the door. It’s when she passes the dining table that she expels the violin from her person and carries on alone.

A touch of a screen, slam of a door, repetitious step after step…

Hope scurries down the steps and through the front door without wasting a breath.

She glides through the front door and out into the walkway Dr. Watson is standing in front of. Back to her, he watches as the hovercrafts and people glide by.

There’s still time to waste.

And it’s a nice day, so why not?

The man winces with a look up at the cloudless sky. A chuckle of good fortune bubbles up from his throat and he smiles. The day truly is beautiful.

Hope stares at the doctor’s back in almost pained curiosity as she tip toes passed him and a family of five. Six if one includes the dog, which they most certainly do.

It takes all of Hope’s willpower to not catch Dr. Watson in his lie, but she manages.

After all, the man’s lingering on the front step, his head raised to the sun beams and a smile stretching his face.

He’s far from the nerve ridden, frustrated man Dr. Watson turns into before taking a drink.

Which implies the anxiety had been caused by something other than alcoholism.

Brow bent inward, Hope leaves Dr. Watson behind to instead duck into the nearest alley. She moves swiftly through the narrow side street and down the railing lined path behind her building.

It takes no time at all for the young woman’s muscle memory to kick in. If one didn’t know any better they might assume she’s in a hot pursuit, what with the way her legs are kicking her forward and all.

She jumps a barrier with ease and then ascends an alley’s fire escape. For anyone lacking experience, this could take a great deal of time and effort, but Hope reaches the third floor without breaking a sweat.

It’s with similar swiftness that Hope then rolls into an empty flat through it’s open window.

The curtains hanging over the open space blow inward at the disturbance of air, then settle.

All is quiet in the small, empty flat.

This isn’t her first time invading such a space.

Nor would she promise it to be her last.

Steadily, Hope rises to a stand and scans the wide living space.

The telly is off, but beside the crooked remote and upon the coffee table sits a half eaten bowl of cereal and nearly full mug of coffee.

The dark liquid steams from it’s right handed setting.

He left in a hurry.

Hope walks further into the apartment and around a corner until she hits the kitchen space.

Again, the space is rather bland.

Water drips lazily from the sink. It makes a heavy thud at every droplet of water.

Thud, thud, thud…

Hope continues onward until she reaches the main bedroom. Her hands slide into her pockets as she walks over to the closet and stops before the closed door.

When she retracts her hands, they’re each holding a synthetic glove. One by one she pulls them on.

The material slaps at her skin after having released the elastic.

Blue eyes hold on the lock pad beside the door. It’s an older model.

A deep red light illuminates the lock’s thick edges in an attempt to scare off anyone like Hope.

However, she finds it little more than patronizing.

2332

Four numbers.

That’s all it takes to infiltrate the system.

A chime rings out around the room and a moment later the unusually heavy door falls open until meeting the wall at it’s side.

It holds there in wait.

Hope steps into the closet. She’s careful not to touch any more than she has to as she pushes a handful of old suits out of the way before meeting what she knew she would find.

A built in safe.

Hope’s fingers dance over the metal screen where a key would need to be presented to unlock such a device.

One key.

One way in.

Her pointer finger stops at the safe’s nearly invisible edge and holds there.

She’s unmovable, and yet… her mind is racing a mile a minute.

It’s not a bad model. In fact, it’s one of the best volts in the After World.

Small, reinforced… Even the carbonized glass can withstand up to ten tons of pressure.

It would take a bomb to break through the surface and even then one would set off a priority alarm and no doubt damage whatever lies within it’s confines.

So it’s probably a good thing she remembered to bring the key.

Hope pulls out a rough, uneven piece of copper and holds the negative charge down against the glass screen. After a second of ultrasonic vibrating and a twist of Hope’s wrist, the door to the safe slides open and Hope reaches inside.

She pulls out a small object and stuffs it into her pocket as though she fears a potential audience.

Carefully, she closes the safe’s door and prepares to place everything back to how she’d originally found it.

It’s an easy enough task considering the barren state she found it in, but the photograph upon the adjacent dresser lets tell a personal touch.

Within the image is a man of odd familiarity. Beside him is another man with an identical, if not slightly aged, face. They’re embracing one another with grins across their faces and crows feet folding the corners of their eyes.

Happy.

Hope has a few theories as to why Gregson no longer smiles like that.

—-

Gregson glares at the convict smiling back at him. Around the man’s belt is a key chain with a virtually indistinguishable key to the one Hope has just used to break into the owner’s safe.

The Detective Inspector snuffs at the air and shifts in his chair. His arms have been crossed for little over half an hour now. His lips have been shut for twice that length.

Smiling back at him is the real Sebastian Moran, assailant of the admirable General Lucas and number one suspect in a series of murders.

Dark eyes stare innocently from under untamed eyebrows.

“Why am I here, detective?”

Surprise, surprise, he’s met with silence.

Sebastian sighs.

“If your goal is to make me uncomfortable, get me to talk, you’re dead on the money. Now, don’t over play it.”

Gregson’s lips part, but no sound comes out. Eyes still on Sebastian, he sits up in his chair and sets his elbows down upon the table. He doesn’t so much as blink as he says, “Your partner was found dead in the showers just over an hour ago.”

Sebastian gives away nothing.

Gregson can feel his lips chapping. When he licks at his lips his tongue is met with flaky flesh. “He was supposed to stand trial today.”

The criminal’s eyes widen and lips quirk in feigned surprise. “Shame.”

“He was just a kid.”

“Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear, but I’ve never met the boy.”

Gregson swipes the left side of his mouth and leans back. He’s smiling in aggravation as he glances to the mirror at his back.

When he looks back at Sebastian, the man is as calm as it gets. “I think you’re lying. I think you know all about Moriarty’s plan to start a war with France and I think you killed Thomas because he was going to rat on you and Sir Robert.”

“Thomas?” Sebastian echos. “I could have sworn his name was Marvin.”

Gregson’s face reddens in fury, but he keeps his fists balled upon the table. Slowly, ever so slowly, he stands and leans forward until he can smell the sweat on Sebastian’s brow. Quietly, he hisses, “You killed a boy…” His eyes dart up and down the sniper’s detached expression. “And you can’t even remember his name.”

Straightening out, Gregson steps back from the table and turns his back on Sebastian. Without so much as looking at the man, he snarls, “Enjoy living life with death as your shadow, Moran. You deserve it.”

The door falls shut at Gregson’s back, blocking him from Sebastian.

The guard by the door says nothing and instead allows Gregson to move to the viewing room without pause.

It takes a raise of his badge, but the door slides open for him with ease.

He steps inside and up to the two sided mirror.

Beside him, Lestrade bites at his right thumb and sways at the heels of his feet. “I’m not convinced he did it.” Lestrade mumbles around his thumb.

Gregson glances behind his shoulder at the woman standing at the back of the room, then to Lestrade.

The junior detective meets the look, then stutters out an awkward introduction of, “O-oh, umm. Gregson, this is Miss Adler. She’s from the city of Oliver. According to the department’s notice, she’s on the case.” Lestrade humms with an idle look back out the see through mirror.

Sebastian seems unusually calm given the circumstances.

Miss Adler’s heels click against the floor boards as she stretches out a hand and broad smile. “Irene, please.”

Gregson takes one glance at the woman’s long, black, perfectly manicured finger tips and snarls. To Lestrade, he barks, “You don’t find that odd?”

Lestrade shrugs a look between Miss Adler and Gregson. “She checks out.”

Irene drops her hand to her waist line and pops a hip. “You’re being awfully rude, gentlemen. You particularly, Detective Inspector Gregson.” She makes a point of saying.

Gregson gives the dark haired woman a wary look that spans from the toes of her strappy red heels to her vibrant green eyes.

Long wavy curls hide beneath a white Captain’s hat, but several strands have no trouble finding means of escape.

She’s wearing a decorated navy uniform, not that one would have guessed it given the way she’s pulling it off.

The bright white of her uniform is dulled significantly by the poor lighting of the viewing room, but the color and medals of honor are still easy to recognize.

“Captain Adler, eh?” Gregson finally grunts.

Irene nods.

“Well, shit.”

—-

Hope scans the spare badge Gregson has gone through every means of protecting into the lock pad between cell blocks A and B.

She’s in her old tech gear, which makes it easy for her to gain access to restricted areas of the prison without arousing suspicion. In fact, most try to avoid as much contact as possible with the lab geek.

The superiority, isolation…

She’s missed it.

The cell door slides open just long enough for her to step through before it slams closed behind her.

Inmates howl at her presence, but only a few can actually see her given the fact that they are all quarantined to their individual cells until the crime scene is cleared.

There’s a familiar feel that comes with the loud shouting and simultaneously silent threats that ring through a cell block.

Danger.

Hope keeps her head held high as she paces down the empty space between cells and out through another wide open hallway.

The walls are an obscene custard color. The smooth tones of the barren walls bounce off of the floor’s white and gray speckled tiles that do little to distract from the joint aching cement beneath them.

Hope takes on a sharp corner only to backtrack the second she sees some of her old coworkers hovering around the taped off crime scene.

They look the same as her.

White lab coats, latex gloves, navy blue Scotland Yard Forensic analysis jackets… And yet they all look so different.

They’re hovering around the bathroom doors, bickering, arguing.

They can’t agree on something.

Hope tilts her head to better observe her ex-colleagues as they hesitate in spreading out.

One step forward, two steps back.

Every time one of them turns to take their leave, someone says something to reel them back into the argument.

They’re shouting in whispers, making it impossible to decipher what it is, exactly, they’re fighting about.

Posture.

Slouching. Angled. Bent at the knees.

Hand movements.

Rapid. Wide. Aggressive.

Features.

Red skin. Wide eyes. Bent brows.

Voice.

Quiet. Strained. Enunciated.

Conclusion.

Clearly they’re talking about something which must not be discussed. A secret. They’re hiding something. They have to.

Danger.

It’s dangerous.

“We can’t.”

Hope reads these two words on several of the analysts’ lips, but even they are hard to read from this distance.

Regardless, their repetition suggests it to be the strongest argument on the opposing side.

Clap.

Clap.

Hope shoots her head forward at the interruption of conflict-shy Lestrade.

“What’s going on?” Lestrade asks with wondrous, outstretched hands.

Six forensic analysts in total stand before the detective, but none dare meet the young man’s eyes.

“It’s nothing, sir. It won’t happen again.” A red head apologizes with a look to the ground.

“What are you-?” Lestrade tries to ask, but he’s cut off by his far bolder partner coming up behind him.

Gregson strides passed Lestrade and, after a moment of hesitation on the red head’s part, snatches the initial forensic findings from the group.

Gregson scrolls the tablet. “All these years and I still can’t read a bloody thing on these reports.”

“It-it umm…” The red head, Matthew, stutters. “There’s no sign of foul play, sir.”

Irene and two of her vessel’s officers turn the corner just as Gregson slams the tablet down upon the cement flooring, causing the tile to crack.

Matthew jumps at the noise and reaches to cover the back of his neck. He then bends it to look anywhere but the detective’s eyes when the man shouts, “Don’t you dare try to tell me that boy cut himself up like that!”

Irene’s eyes drift away from the painfully dramatic scene playing out in front of her to instead hold upon a connecting hallway where she could have sworn she’d seen something move.

“Not like that!” Gregson shouts. “Not today!”

—-

Dr. Watson taps his thumbs repeatedly together. His leg, be it conscious or subconsciously, taps with them.

His hearing is dulled, and yet somehow still hyperactive as he watches the pen swirl in front of him. It makes a loud, smooth draw around another cursive letter.

The writing is upside down, but with so many zeros Dr. Watson knows he won’t dare complain.

“You’re sure you want paper?”

Dr. Watson startles a look up at Henry.

“I beg your pardon?”

Henry grins. “Paper.” He restates. Idly, he lifts the paper, holograph stamped check into the air. “It’s so easy to misplace.”

Dr. Watson’s eyes move with the flimsy sheet of paper.

“Yes, well… In my experience, computers are just as vulnerable.”

Henry humms, low and quick. “I feel I’m inclined to agree with you, Dr. Watson.”

The check slides against the coated grains of wood that constitute Henry’s desk. A moment later it’s snatched into the air and Dr. Watson stands. His eyes glance to the numbers on the check mid-fold only to double back a second later.

His mouth parts in shameless awe.

“That’s the deposit.” Henry promises with a lean back in his chair. “You’ll receive the second half when you’ve dispatched of the threat to my family’s inheritance.”

Dr. Watson’s ogle falters just long enough to look the other man in his dark, soulless eyes.

“Dispatch?”

Henry looks off to the side, then back at the doctor. “Yes. Obviously. You’re the gun, Holmes is the brain, yes? That is how your team works, isn’t it? Justice outside the law?”

Dr. Watson feels his stomach drop more and more at each passing question.

“Wrong.” His voice cracks, then clears. He tosses the check onto the desk. “I don’t-…” He lets out a long, steadying breath. “We don’t work that way. You’ve been vastly misinformed, good sir.”

“That right?”

Henry leans over his desk. When his elbows hit the wood his hands fold to cover his agile quirk of lips.

“That’s right.” Dr. Watson confirms.

Dark eyes on blue/gray, Henry asks, “So it wasn’t you who killed the man responsible for sending the wedding up in flames?”

For a moment there’s a pause.

Then Dr. Watson shuffles a bewildered step forward. “Who?”

Henry drops his smile and leans back. “Curious.” He mumbles while making a grab for his check. Without a moment’s pause the man rips the paper in two. “I suppose I’ll have to deal with Holmes directly, won’t I?”

Dr. Watson’s brow knits. “She isn’t like that. Neither of us are.”

Henry snorts, and all of a sudden Dr. Watson remembers just how much he hates the wealthy.

“You clearly know nothing of your partner in crime, Dr. Watson.”

He wants to say something, to defend Hope, but the look this man is giving him has caused his tongue to catch.

It would seem he knows very little of Hope.

—-

Hope stares down at the corpse of Thomas K. Lupas.

The inmate bathing area is barren.

A handful of tinted, unbreakable glass showers line one of the walls while stalls, sinks, and urinals line the other.

It’s a small bathroom, not easy to get in and out of without being seen.

No system malfunction, no glitch work, two guards waiting by the entrance, and yet a body lies dead in the shower.

The supposed murder weapon, a small shank made up of broken mirror and a torn segment of sock, rests in the boy’s bloodied palm.

Perimortem cuts to the hand line with the blade of the weapon in a way that suggests his hand slipped a number of times through the process of cutting at something, be it himself or something/someone else.

Suicide?

A plausible theory, but…

Hope scans the sliced heap of a body. It’s excessive considering the cause of death came from the dash across the wrists, but there are no bruises, no marks of restraint or really anything to imply he fought with an assailant.

Access to a chemical screening could come of use…

Hope reaches into her lab coat and pulls out a small rectangular box. It’s made of black glass that lights a dull gray where her fingers connect with it.

After adjusting her stance, Hope signs the face of the screen and the box unlocks.

She opens it’s face to reveal a standard forensic set. Tubes, swabs, lenses, tweezers, ect.

It’s after taking a blood sample that Hope gets the chance to stand upright and lean over the body. The blood drains, as one might expect, toward the open drain none bothered to close.

Fortunately, however, most of the evidence has been saved due to a coincidental clogging of the drain.

But, should coincidences not exist…

Hope pulls the magnifying lens out of her set and bends down into an awkward, evidence saving curve of limbs and magnificent balance.

Hair, of course, is the cause of faulty plumbing.

Long, dark, and shapely.

Very much unlike the victim’s.

Hope reaches down with her tweezers to pull out a few samples from the drain. At closer inspection she can see the root is of a lighter color and the bulb is still intact.

It will no doubt be an excellent sample for DNA testing.

Could it be from another inmate? Yes.

Should it prove to be otherwise, there will be no doubt this case involves more than the silly conclusions many might jump to at first glance.

—-

Hope stands at the laboratory side table set up against the back wall of 221B’s living space.

Blood.

She dabs the sample against the slide, then sets it within the datascope’s stabilized chamber. Without waiting for the results, Hope bends over the machine’s lens to take a look at the blood cells.

No signs of blood thinner, no clotting, no obvious signs of abuse or contamination…

The sky clouds to cover the setting sun.

Reddish gray beams of light filter in through the open window. It would be wise to close them given the darkness rolling in, but Hope is too preoccupied to deal with such trivial matters.

A chime echoes out.

Hope moves away from the sample to remove the clean, dye-less stand of brunette from the machine. Now that it’s completely free of contaminants she can crush the sample against it’s confining tube and a glass rod until it creates a fine, almost powder-like substance.

Another chime.

Hope removes what’s left of the blood sample and replaces it with a slide of finely crushed hair.

Setting the blood down, Hope removes her latex gloves and steps over to the glass screen mounted upon her wall. It sits alight with the toxicology report and a perfect DNA match to inmate 08891232- DECEASED.

No drugs.

No chemicals.

And as she previously observed, no self-defense wounds.

Hope stares intently at the screen before her in an attempt to find anything out of the usual. But aside from the expected malnutrition of a man in prison, his sample is clean.

All signs are pointing to suicide.

All except-

Hope’s head tilts just before she hears the living room window slam closed. Immediately following, a chime rings out for the hair’s DNA results.

There’s a match.

“Oh, dear.” A woman sighs from beside the window.

Hope glances at the screen.

Heels tap against the flooring. “Although, I can’t honestly say I’m surprised.” The woman shrugs through her approach.

Hope looks into venomous green eyes hidden beneath a Captain’s white cap.

Irene Adler- Captain of the After World's USS ALICE, are the words above the woman's head.

Hope pries her eyes away from the screen to instead turn and face the real thing.

Irene Adler stops her approach nothing but a breath away, then leans forward. The much smaller woman stands her ground, allowing her space to be infiltrated for the sake of appearing the stronger of the two.

Long, curly strands of dark brunette fall forward to hit Hope in the cheek, then steady in the space between them.

“I shed like a dog, after all.” Irene muses in a whisper.

The woman towers over Hope, and only partially because of her red stiletto heels.

A silver, chain link bracelet with an anchor charm drapes twice around Irene’s wrist. It’s merely this one piece of jewelry and a little black dress that breaks up the otherwise caramel canvas of Captain Irene Adler.

Her tanned skin glows in comparison to Hope’s sick and pasty flesh.

“You are suggesting-”

Irene winces and leans away from Hope upon catching an earful of the young woman’s excessive volume.

“That your hair fell out whilst inspecting the body, however,” Hope tilts her head and tries a step out from the woman’s attempted confines. “I know for fact that this is not the case.”

Irene licks at wet red lips. Her voice carries in a wave of exhaustion as she inquires, “And how’s that, Miss Holmes?”

“For starters,” Hope reaches across the lab bench to pick up a second sample of hair with some tweezers. “this hair- your hair- was webbed in and around the shower's drain pipe, suggesting it had been guided and/or forced into the drain by the pressure of water.” Hope mumbles with a gentle lowering of her evidence holding hand. “And second...” She continues, “The fact that you're here, that you've sought me out and broken into my flat, can only mean you knew I would find this... And that you intend to do something about it.”

Hope stares dully at Irene Adler, a Captain with far too much to lose.

Irene stares back as though she were thinking this through, plotting her course of action.

A Captain’s trait, no doubt.

Thoughtful, patient, concise.

Which begs the question…

Hope steps away from her in-home lab. Her hands fold behind her back as she takes several steps to the right until she’s inoffensively trapped Irene between herself and the lab. “Enlighten me.” Hope says without a twitch of emotion. “What could a sea Captain such as yourself possibly gain from seeing the world at war? A promotion? Death? Are you bored? Being threatened? Paid?”

Irene smiles. “So many questions.” She breathes. “You really are quite curious, aren’t you?”

Hope says nothing in wait for a response to her previous inquiries.

Irene clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, then makes a few rounded steps of her own so that they stand parallel one another.

It’s a nonthreatening advancement, but still Irene’s movements are abrasive. She has a goal and distance unrelated, she’s reaching it.

Cat and mouse.

A game.

Both are completing against one another for the role of cat, and yet both are equally qualified.

The two maintain eye contact as though one glance away will be all it takes to lose the game.

Game, game, game…

Hope wonders if she’ll ever get sick of them.

Irene bites her bottom lip, looks up and down the height of her competitor, and then releases it.

“You're unusually small in stature, Miss Holmes.” Irene huffs out a laugh. “I almost feel I could carry you around in my pocket- so thin, so short, so frail...” Irene's tongue holds the “L”.

Hope’s tone is cool and collected as she responds, “If you’re going to size me up, I suggest you account for my resourcefulness. You’d be amazed by how much little can do.”

Irene’s lips tug at the warning.

“Yes.” She agrees with a downward tilt of her chin so that she is no longer looking down her nose at the P.I. “I see that, now.”

“Fantastic.” Hope mutters.

A stillness befalls the duo.

With the tavern downstairs out of business the flat has become unusually quiet. It’s as though the building has lost it’s previous life, dangerous as it had been.

No smell of cigars, loud conversations, drunken stupor, or even secretive whispers.

The space has lost it’s livelihood.

And fallen prey to silence.

“I didn’t kill that man.”

Irene’s confession is followed by more silence.

The air has turned still, so still that one can hear the people chatting outside, their breaths, and their heartbeats all at the same volume.

Irene takes a forward step and in response, Hope steps back.

It only takes a second, but in that moment caution, alarm, and distrust break through the mask Hope has long since built for herself.

Irene glides her tongue over the back of her lip and repeats, very slowly, “I did not kill that man, Sherlock.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“It’s your name.”

A breeze drifts in through the second window and with it stirs a chill.

The door downstairs unlatches and falls open. A man with a limp shuffles into the entryway downstairs. He coughs once into something soft- a sleeve, and shuts the door behind himself.

His steps are heavy and uneven as he starts up the stairs.

Its obvious to the ear that the man is having more than a little difficulty keeping his balance and not just because of an improperly cared for bullet wound.

“Oh…” Dr. Watson moans from behind the door. He leans his body against the railing and in doing so, taps his jacket zipper against the iron bar.

He’s just outside the door, but he doesn’t come in. Instead, he moves to his right, toward the kitchen, and walks inside.

“Sounds like the doctor’s had a bad day.” Irene observes.

Hope straightens at the mention of the doctor. “Keep him out of this.”

Irene’s brow lifts and smile tugs. “Oh?”

“He is irrelevant and distracting. It would be an unfair advantage.” Hope protests.

Miss Irene Adler, Captain of the USS ALICE, takes another step forward. She’s more than pleased when the other challenges her by standing her ground. “Well,” She purrs. “We wouldn’t want that, now, would we?” Another forward step. “Not when I already have such an,” her breath hitches and feet advance. Long, slim fingers brush at the chaotic stands of hair shaping Hope’s face. “unfair advantage.”

Black painted nails scrape the skin of Hope’s cheek, down to her chin, before retracting.

Irene bends until she’s certain the other woman can feel her breath on her cheek. It’s between controlled breaths that she whispers, “I’ve taken it into account.”

She pushes at Hope’s shoulders, hard.

The smaller woman flies back at the impact and into the arm of Dr. Watson’s favorite armchair. Her spine hits against the cushioned frame of an arm and she curls. Body wounded and vulnerable, Irene grabs Hope by the shirt and wrist, forcing her into a seated position.

Hand still over wrist, Irene crawls over the smaller woman. Her breathing is ragged, uneven. Smiling, she reaches for the dagger she keeps tucked within her thigh holster only to feel it’s absence.

Hope doesn’t squirm beneath the woman but instead holds her eye and remains as still as she can manage. Calmly, she explains to the woman, “You’ve miscalculated it’s worth.”

A wide, amused grin stretches the Captain’s lips to the point of discomfort.

It’s then the door to the flat’s living space falls open and Dr. Watson comes limping into the scene.

He freezes at the sight of a beautiful woman entangled with Hope on his armchair.

He looses his chance to shut his gaping mouth and ask a real question when Hope lets out a steady, “I can explain.”

—-

“I understand the game. And to be frank, I intend to win.” Irene explains. She sits with her legs crossed over one another. Her hands clasp above her right knee. She’s sitting punctually in Hope’s armchair as though she were at a job interview rather than an interrogation.

“Win?” Dr. Watson echoes. He reaches up to rub at his aching temple. After Hope’s whirlwind of a story one would think he’d sober up, but as it turns out, the complexities of such a thing only dimmed his already befuddled wit. “What, is there a prize, now?”

“Survival.” Hope explains from within the chair Dr. Watson is leaning against.

Irene nods a yes.

The natural light is fading. This shadows the living space, making it far colder than it needs be.

Without leaving pale green Hope reaches down between the cushions and pulls out a bejeweled dagger. The weapon’s case has been drowned in well cared for jewels, mostly diamond, some ruby. They sparkle a clean white and vibrant red in the dark room.

The sheath of the knife curves to a round, solid tip of white gold.

Irene’s chest fills with air at the sight and she straightens impossibly more.

Hope holds the weapon by it’s diamond dusted, t-shaped handle and gives it a proper look over.

Dr. Watson takes one look at the weapon and frowns. His eyes darken.

“Jewels, rubies and riches…” Hope whispers.

Irene turns away from the dagger and closes her eyes in frustration.

Hope unsheathes the dagger to reveal a shining surface of white gold. The knife’s surface is inscribed with a symmetric, bowing symbol that curves left, then right.

“Peace.” Dr. Watson snorts. He darts a look to Irene. “I knew it. That symbol? You’re a member of the rebellion.”

“I stand alone.” Irene corrects.

Hope sheaths the dagger in one loud, sharp movement. “And yet you have an After World vessel and crew at your back. How is that?”

“I’m resourceful.” The woman coos.

“I’m sure you had a bit of help.”

“Perhaps.”

Dr. Watson narrows a look between the two women. He hears the words passed between them, but it’s as if they’re having another conversation all together, one he’s been excluded from.

Hope tosses the dagger at Irene and, instinctively, she catches it. Black coated claws dig into the expensive piece of weaponry. Perplexed, the woman asks, “You’re giving it back?”

“Obviously.” Hope drones. “The cuts on the body were rugged and uneven. They came from a shank of mirror, not a dagger. Your toy is irrelevant to the case.”

“Toy.” Irene echoes through an unexpected smile. She looks down to the expensive keepsake and her smile softens. It turns from aggressive and provocative to sweet and sincere. “I thought I was going to have to take it from you.”

“Excuse me,” Dr. Watson interrupts. His hand shoots out to gesture toward Miss Adler. “but I don’t believe either of you explained just what it is you’re doing here.” He blinks rapidly through his thoughts, then adds a quick, “Ma’am.” as an after thought.

“Fair question, I suppose.” Irene holsters her dagger in it’s custom leather casing, then pulls down her dress for modesty. After a quick shift for comfort she confesses, “I’ve come to check out the competition.” She looks to Hope. “And I must say, I’m both surprised,” she turns to look at Dr. Watson; “and relieved.”

Dr. Watson’s eyebrows drop on their own accord.

“I’m a free spirit.” She goes on to say. “I can live with threats, but what I can’t have is some man watching my every move.” Again, she shifts in her seat and looks between the duo. “It’s bad for business.”

“Hmmph.” Dr. Watson huffs. “I’m sure it is.”

Irene snaps a dangerous smile the doctor’s way. “I’ve studied the book, my character, all of the characters, really. I’ve analyzed this man’s patterns, his triggers, nothing is without cause. His work and our brief encounters have been meticulous. But what I don’t understand…” Irene lets out a huff and shrugs. “Is your role, Dr. Watson.” A chuckle bubbles at the base of her throat as the woman asks, “Just what, exactly, do you bring to the table?”

Dr. Watson deflates at the insult and in doing so, drops the eye contact.

“I mean your blog is awful-”

Then don’t read it.” Dr. Watson snaps.

“She’s bating you, Dr. Watson.” Hope tilts her head to rest against a propped arm. “Don’t let her control your thoughts and actions.”

Dr. Watson exhales for a moment’s peace. Once his guard is properly in place he looks Irene Adler in the eye and holds it, strong and sure.

His “inner soldier”, Hope refers to this part of him, as.

Irene notices the atmosphere’s shift and smiles in it’s face. She’s no stranger to a challenge.

—-

Gregson stares at the body laid out before him. The boy had agreed to testify, to tell the world what he knew, and this is what that good deed got him.

Shanked in a shower.

Thick fingers rub into the dry crows feet at the corners of Gregson’s eyes.

It’s been a long day.

His inhale comes with an aroma of early decay and wet iron. It’s a hazard of the job, but he’ll never be accustom to the smells and sights he signed up for.

Every day of his life he’s surrounded by death and yet he’s still foolish enough to think that putting on a suit and strapping on a badge is going to make some sort of difference.

“Excuse me? Detective Inspector?”

Gregson pulls his hand away from his face, but not before brushing the side of his wide red nose. He turns his head away from red and custard to meet eyes with the red head who just walked in.

“You’re that idiot.” Gregson says. His voice carries in the otherwise small and silent space. “The one who insists this is a suicide.”

Matthew gives a little shrug and looks down to his hands. His breathing is shaky and hands a jitter as they fiddle with an opened envelope that’s been stamped with a red seal.

Gregson’s eyes draw to the wax “M” like a magnet. “Where did you get that?” He barks.

Matthew feels a sting in his eye and tremble in his bottom lip. It takes courage, a lot of it, to look up from the envelope and hand it over.

Gregson takes the paper from Matthew’s shaky hands without hesitation and pulls it open. Inside is a single sheet of card stock. It’s practically a replica of the one already in evidence, he finds.

Except this time… this time is beholds the word:

Jessica

“My daughter.” Mathew chokes out. “W-we all got one this morning. Just before receiving the call.” He explains with a pained look to the corpse at his feet. His breathing stutters and tears build up until they’re overflowing. “I-it’s a threat, right? If we tell you?”

Gregson spreads the tips of his fingers across the smooth parchment. The cursive handwriting… there’s no doubt it belongs to the same person who wrote the first letter.

He shouldn’t ask. He knows he shouldn’t ask.

But he has to.

After all… it’s part of the job.

“Tell me what?”

—-

The room is dark. It’s lit only by the lampposts outside and what little moonlight has managed to filter it’s way in.

It’s cold, and there’s a draft, but no one seems compelled enough to reset the window.

Instead they stay paralyzed in their spots while air bites at their cheeks and chills their fingers.

“Did Moriarty tell you to kill that boy? Or was that all you?”

Hope’s words break the silence, but not for long.

What follows is another wave of discomfort before Irene finally speaks up to say, “I’ve already told you. I didn’t kill him.”

“Perhaps I should have said sooner, but I felt my disbelief had been implied.” Hope retorts.

Irene leans forward in her seat. “You’re wasting time on this, Holmes. What you should be doing is tracking down Moriarty. Anything else is a distraction. You should know that.”

Dr. Watson drops his line of sight to the woman sitting in the armchair he’s leaning against.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The noise is faint, as though it were coming from a distance, but as it draws nearer it increases in volume.

Irene darts a panicked look to the door, then to Hope. “What did you do?” She stands from her seat. “I’m being set up. Can’t you see that? This is Moriarty’s doing!” She shouts in frustration. “You’re supposed to be able to see that!”

Dr. Watson’s head snaps to the door at the sound of their front door being blown off it’s hinges.

Hope sets her hands defenselessly on either arm rest and takes a breath. Her eyes drift to meet Irene’s, but the woman’s gone.

Disappeared into thin air, it would seem.

“Where’d she-?” Dr. Watson tries to ask, but he’s cut off by yet another door being propelled off of it’s hinges and into their living space. He barks out an angry, surprised noise as officers in uniform come piling into the room with large guns, not tasers, resting in their hands. They point them at Dr. Watson and particularly Hope.

“Hands up!” They shout, and Dr. Watson is inclined to do just that.

“What is this?” He asks, but he’s ignored, or rather, aggressively pulled by the back of his collar and tossed out of harm’s way.

For a moment he’s confused.

Then he sees Hope’s hands raise and his heart sinks.

Boots hit against the steps until the last of the officers are in position around the suspect.

“You’re-” Dr. Watson looks to Gregson and Lestrade as they enter the room. The former of the two holds out a holographic warrant in Dr. Watson’s direction. “You’re mistaken.” He insists.

“Dr. Watson, believe me… As much as I wish that were true?” Lestrade pinches a frown and shakes his head. “We’re not.”

 

TO BE CONTINUED

AMSER STUDIOS TRAVELING CUPCAKES

 

Amser Studios inspired cupcakes will be available for one day only – May 6, 2017 at the Duluth, MN Music and Arts Armory on London Road from 10am-8pm.

 

To see the full menu and pre-order your cupcake(s), please visit https://igg.me/at/aaig and look through “perks” [* (DIY- Recipes found in A.A.I.G. 2017) *]

 

OR

 

Go to http://www.AmserStudios.com/events

 

Amser Studios Traveling cupcakes only stay in any city for one day and may pop up at any time so please subscribe to our monthly newsletter at the bottom of any www.AmserStudios.com web page to keep an eye on events near you!

 

A few items available are:

 

After World Archive- Almond Crumb Cake with Sea Salted Caramel and Almond Dusted Frosting

 

Assembly Of Planets- Honey Cake with Black Tea Frosting

 

Hope- Strawberry Cake with Chamomile Frosting

 

New World- Wendall Farms' Honey Cake with Honey Buttercream Frosting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FROM THE AUTHOR

 

 

 

Hello,

I would like to thank you for your support! I do hope you liked the novelette and ask that you please leave me a review on Amazon/Goodreads/Ect. It would be most appreciated, if you could.

If you’re looking to continue this series, just look for the novelette, “HOPE: THE WOMAN, PART TWO

Find updates on my twitter @amserstudios, or on my website, www.amserstudios.com!

Other works you might find interest in are my Apocolyptic/Mad-Scientist/Sci-Fi “NEW WORLD” series, UNBELIEVE, or the Fantasy/Mystery/Crime novelette series, ASSEMBLY OF PLANETS. If either of those sound like your kind of thing, please take a look!

Thank you again, and enjoy the rest of your day!

-Legend W. Brook

 

 


Hope: The Woman Part One

  • ISBN: 9781370113774
  • Author: Legend Brook
  • Published: 2017-01-28 04:05:19
  • Words: 11001
Hope: The Woman Part One Hope: The Woman Part One