The Scoundrel of Hyde Street. Doctor Watson Story from the Baker Street Universe. Doctor Watson meets the Invisible Man, Professor Langdon.
The Scoundrel of Hyde Street
A John Watson Story
By John Pirillo
Bitter and a bit worn down from his tour of duty in the Chinas, John was more than happy to shed his skin of soldiery and settle down into a more sedate life, but little did he know that it would almost immediately erupt into something much less than sedate, and much more than happy. His first night home, he found a one nighter on Hyde Street. Had he been in a better space, perhaps he would have chosen more wisely for his overnight stay, but being newly discharged from the war, and disembarked from a very long voyage across the seas, his only thought was of getting a good night's rest on something that didn't move up and down and right and left.
He felt his shirt pocket to make sure his needle and thread were there. His good luck during the war. Once they had spared him a gunshot to his heart. Smiling, he let go, assured they were there, and headed for the flats he had heard about.
So when he stashed his gear in the corner of the room near the door. It was a small flat. Barely room enough for a stove, a fireplace and a single bed; he was more than ready to collapse on the rather old sheets and worn feather quilt that adorned it. He wasn't used to even that high a quality during his war duties, spending most of his sleeping time huddled in dirt ditches, avoiding being sniped, or bitten...worse yet...by the Ching Ha Wolves...shape shifters that the Chinese used to do their dirty work...much like the marines of Her Majesty.
Their official name was Canis lupus chance, canis lupsu laniger...the Tibetan Wolf. The reason they came off with the other more strange name was that Ching Ha, the leader of the shape shifters, and a power sorceror of the Dark Arts, had a great love for wolves, and his team in honor of him...he died from a stray silver bullet fired by a soldier...named themselves after him, but keeping the name of wolves for themselves.
Except that these soldiers had huge jaws armed with jagged teeth and feet and hands loaded with overly sharp, pointed claws. He sweats even thinking of those nightmare beasts. Part of the reason for the war in the first place was that the Duke of the Germanies had been assassinated by such a beast and that had precipitated the Europes into war with the Orient. A war that neither side could win, but both desperately sought to.
That war had gone on for almost two decades. Costing the lives of countless thousands of young men on both sides. Most had died from gunshot, or explosions, but many had also died of arcane means...black magic, spells of obliteration, translation and death.
John was sick of the whole gamut...whether it was rifles, knives or hand guns. He swore he would never carry a gun again or knife, but as soon as he disembarked he was met by a young man who wanted to tend to his war wound. He was a volunteer of Her Majesty, seeking to make a name for himself. His name was Langdon. His end goal was to teach classes, but for now, tending to the war wounded was his mainstay and his livelihood.
As John sat at the booth set aside for such as him, Langdon very cheerily tended to his wound. "I suppose this is going to be a bother to you most of the rest of your life."
"I hope not."
He smiled at John. "I as well. But..."
John nodded. "You like what you do, don't you?"
"I love it."
He said that as he pulled a knife out to extract a fragment of a silver bullet from John that had lodged near his main artery. "Nasty little bugger this."
"I know. The blasted thing keeps wriggling to get away from me."
"Don't let it wriggle into my artery!" John warned.
Langdon jerked the wriggling bullet piece into the air, where it made a sizzling sound and a soft sigh, then went limp. "Gotcha!"
John laughed. "You sound like a foot ball Captain winning the goal."
Langdon smiled, and then gave John a solemn look. "Every life I save is a goal much more rewarding than any sports goal I could ever achieve."
Finished, he put his gear away and spoke to an Orderly outside the booth. "Next."
He rose and offered his hand. "Please keep in contact. You seem the sort to always have a next thing you're up to."
John rose and offered his good hand. "I should hope so. And now that I've seen a knife used so skillfully and in such a tender way, I am coaxed to reconsider my vow to never touch a weapon again."
Langdon smiled warmly. "Not all weapons are of mass destruction."
John and he shook hands a long time, and then exchanged addresses. "Mine will be good only for a few days." John warned.
"Then please keep me advised of any changes."
"You as well." John returned.
The two shook hands again and John wandered off, feeling a bit dazed by the experience, but with a warm glow in his heart. It was the first time in a long time that he had some hope of a more normal life once more.
Doctor Watson? He asked himself with a sudden amount of consideration. His heart felt this kind of fuzzy glow for a moment, and then he shook his head. "I'm fooling myself. How could I ever afford such an occupation on my pension?"
So here he was on Hyde Street in a poor flat, wondering what his next big move would be as he cast himself in exhaustion onto the bed. He propped his feet up on a pillow, then crossed his hands over his chest. "Perhaps I'll think about it more on the morrow, when my head is clearer."
Then he was out like a light.
The first moment he was aware something was wrong, was when he heard the scream of a woman. It was utterly, utterly horrible. He felt as if someone were tearing a hole in his heart and eating the rest.
He shrugged off the stupor of sleep and reached for his pistol, which of course was no longer there, having left it at the disembarkment, not wanting anything more to do with violence of any nature.
Not deterred, he swept off the bed, slid back into his boots, then dashed out the front door, down the hallway as doors began to fling open, then down the three flights of stairs to the street. He flung open the front door and leaped the three steps to the pavement, then tried to orientate on where the sound had come from.
It was still pitch black outside. No moon and a thick soupy fog was eating at his feet and causing strange shadows to move about as if alive and ready to snap at him. He ignored him. After his years of avoiding the sorcerous kind of fogs, this kind was nothing to him. He shrugged his shirt tighter about him, then on a new scream dashed across the street towards an alley.
He raced into it and was struck down by someone dashing forth from it. For a brief moment he saw a fiendish face, with glowing red eyes, and then the man or creature ran from sight, vanishing into the mounting fog.
He regained his footage and moved into the alley as carefully as he could, fearing there might be more of the strange fellows, but instead he saw a lone woman lying on the stinking alley cobblestones. Her throat had been slit, but she was still alive. He didn't know what to do when he saw the horror of it, but did what he could, remembering the triage of the trenches.
He dropped beside her and pressed his hands to the wound. Her eyes fluttered open and she started to scream, but then saw the look in his eyes. She became calm. Her eyes began to flutter shut.
"Don't go to sleep; you won't waken." He warned her.
But her eyes continued to flutter, growing heavier. He knew she was about to die, and then he remembered the spool of thread and needle he always kept in his right shirt pocket. Something you always had to carry out on the battlefield, or else go naked when your clothing fell off. He kept his left hand depressed on the cut of her throat, then hurriedly pulled out the needle and thread. The needle was always threaded, so he pulled it free and did the only sane thing he could think of. He began darning her throat back together, starting with the vein he saw had been cut. It was a delicate operation, but his hand was steady. He was known to have the steadiest hand in the service with a rifle or gun, and they had been right.
His prowess on the field paid off at that moment and he managed to sew the vein shut, but without cramping it, and then began sewing the skin of the throat together. As he did so he felt people gathering about him.
A Constable came close and dropped to a knee beside him. He was a muscular young man with an earnest face. "I'm Constable Bloodstone; may I help in any way?"
"I'm not a doctor, she needs one at once!"
Constable Bloodstone rose to his feet and blew his whistle. Moments later the sound of a Constable Wagon sounded and its blue flaring lights cut through the fog of the alleyway and entered, forcing the other spectators to disperse to make room.
John helped Bloodstone lift the fallen woman up and set her into the back of the wagon, as people reached out and patted him on his back. "Well done. Good for you. Great job. She'd be dead without you. Bloody hell, nothing is safe anymore."
He smiled inwardly, but the plight of the young woman was more important to him. He jumped into the back of the wagon and Bloodstone joined him as it drove off.
They were both tense with concern as the wagon bounced and swerved.
It stopped at Hyde and Mary Hospital and they got out and as emergency attendants rushed forward with a gurney, they lifted the young woman and placed her on the gurney.
Later Bloodstone and John sat on a bench near the emergency room, as doctors raced in and out, attempting to save her life. One stopped and peered at them. An older gentleman. He came over and introduced himself. "Doctor Charles Owens." He looked at John. "You must be the warrior everyone is talking about."
"I'm not warrior." John said humbly. "Just a man looking for a job. John Watson."
The Doctor nodded. He offered his hand. "I saw the work you did on her throat, and more importantly closing off the artery. She would be more than likely dead now without that fine surgery."
"I am no surgeon."
The Doctor was silent a long time, and then smiled. "Would you like to be?"
John felt his heart racing. He felt the momentum of this moment and the power of the emotions sweeping through him. He had saved a life, not taken one. He had saved a human life. He had felt better during that time of work than all the years of blasting holes in men's chests and blowing them up.
He rose and took the Doctor's hand. "My name is John Watson. I would be proud to be a surgeon. But right now I would just like a job?"
The Doctor smiled, and then looked over at Constable Bloodstone. "I'm sure the Constable here could show you to our employment office?"
Constable Bloodstone rose. "It would be my honor, sir."
The Doctor gave an apologetic smile, then turned to leave, then looked back. "Doctor Watson, I rather fancy that name."
With that certain statement he fled back into the emergency room to help complete the saving of a young woman's life.
Constable Bloodstone looked at John. "She's the first one that's been saved from that monster of Hyde Street."
John's eyes narrowed with anger. "If I have my way, she shall not be the last."
Constable Bloodstone laughed. "Doctor, calm down, the war is over."
John sighed, and then rubbed his weary eyes. "Some wars never end. Now...about that employment office?"
"This way." Constable Bloodstone offered and he and John walked towards the future.
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