Sherlock Holmes and the Doom in the Black Seas. A Baker Street Universe Adventure. Hell above and hell below!
The Black Seas boiled with curls of white frothy waves that tossed the Nautilus about as if it were a common wooden hulled vessel, or one of those frigates with the new Tesla drives, but made of steel and wood. Captain Nemo hung from the railing of the Sail, the uppermost portion of the sub that had the periscope as well as a double sided railing on which was currently tied three rafts, with the fourth being out of sight because it had been manned earlier by Sherlock Holmes, a nauseous Doctor Watson, Harry Houdini, Professor Challenger and Conan, the reborn writer from the alternate earth. A strange crew, but not so unusual he thought to himself as he gazed with his hawklike gaze at the near horizon of the island they had moored off from.
Ned climbed onto the Sail, his Nordic blonde hair sailing in the wind along its brisk currents, his face moist and smile curling his lips as usual. He had a Jews Harp in his right hand, which he began plucking at after he fit it to his mouth. After listening several minutes Captain Nemo signaled he wanted to talk.
Ned nodded and tucked the Jews Harp back into his baggy pants, where he also kept a harmonica at his beck and call. “I was wondering when you’d finally talk about this mission.”
Captain Nemo gave him a dark look for a moment. He still wasn’t used to the brashness of this erstwhile crew member, but otherwise bothersome, arrogant American at times. “I don’t know why I don’t have you thrown overboard, Ned.”
“Because I’m taller than you.” Quipped Ned with a mischievous grin.
Captain Nemo shook his head, and then looked towards the island again. “I don’t like having no backup plan.”
“I’m sure they would be in agreement with that sentiment, seeing as all they had to fight with were those service revolvers and Mister Holmes’ unique sense of humor and outlook.”
“Don’t underestimate that man, Ned. He’s been in far worse situations and survived.”
“Not the first one.”
Captain Nemo’s face reflected a deep sadness for a moment. “I don’t ever want to hear you speak like that again on my vessel.”
Ned looked distressed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t’ mean to come off that way.”
Captain Nemo looked away. “I still remember him like the back of my hand.”
“They say he was much colder than this current one.”
Captain Nemo started to get angry again, and then realized Ned was sincere. He immediately bit the words about to erupt from his mouth. “Aye, but his heart was pure as snow.”
“I hear he was never the same after the loss of…”
“Aye…he wasn’t. And that’s what put him at the mercy of that blaggart, Moriarity.”
“And yet, you are friend with…”
“Aye. A finer man I’ve never met.”
Ned eyed Captain Nemo a moment, and then followed his vision to the island. “James is a different breed. I’ll give you that. Just don’t understand why he insisted on staying here, when he knew the danger they were facing.”
“Exactly why he did stay. Backup.”
“I thought you said you didn’t like not having a backup plan?”
“Me. Not them. They always have a backup plan.”
James climbed onto the sail platform and gave them both a nod and a grin. “Don’t believe everything you hear.”
Captain Nemo gave him a dark look.
James eyed Ned. “How soon until we can have a second raft manned and ready?”
Captain Nemo straightened up in alarm.
James eyed him closely. “Harry just sent me a message. Says they’re in a bit of trouble.”
“We’re in a bit of trouble here.” Harry said as he fought off a flying creature that resembled a giant bat, but with human hands and a face with fangs as large as a saber tooth tiger’s.
Sherlock snapped a shot off at a second one that had shot down at them from above. “Nothing we can’t handle, I’m sure.”
Watson clutched the throat of one of the bat creatures that stood in front of him, just shy of his height by a few inches, striving to sink its fangs into his throat. “Speak for yourself, Holmes.”
“I am.” Sherlock said, then swept around and snapped a shot into the head of the creature attacking Watson. It fell away from him and tumbled down the slope of the low mountain they stood upon.
Above them the skies were roiling with ominous clouds, ready to blossom with terrible bolts of lightning and siege force winds that magic was stirring up to combat them.
“We have to reach the temple before they are able to complete their ceremonies.” He hollered over the wind that was getting louder and louder, and threatening to shake them free from the tenuous narrow strip of path they stood upon.
“Grab hold!” Challenger called out from above, dropping a knotted rope with loops in it. “Quickly. Put the loops beneath your arms.
Conan and Challenger looked down at their friends below, anchoring themselves on their potion of the path by wedging themselves between two pillars that opened into a dark entrance before which lay several large demon like creatures with bullet holes in the center of their fierce looking heads.
Conan felt one of them move slightly, and kicked it again in its head for good measure. The movement stopped. “Dratted demons! Of all possible worlds to be born into, why in the name of God did it have to be this one,
Challenger cinched the rope tighter about him and the first pillar, and then grinned. “You always did like a challenge or you’d have never created this world to begin with.”
“I never created this world.” Conan complained.
“Be careful what you imagine, old man, your thoughts are powerful. I haven’t shown you yet a tenth of what your wild imagination has done to our world yet.”
“Well then.” Conan replied, cinching his rope tighter about the second pillar and grinning back. “I shall endeavor my best to never find out.”
“Climb as if your lives depended on it!” Challenger hollered down to Sherlock and Watson. He gave them a broad smile. “Because it does, the storm will be breaking any moment and I don’t think any of us can hold against that monster.”
Sherlock and Watson began hauling themselves upwards, hand over hand, using their legs to grapple the rope as best they could and steady themselves.
Houdini shot a burst of magic into a descending bat creature and it exploded in the air, its dying screams so loud and piercing that all the men felt violated by the touch of it, but nonetheless steadied and climbed.
“Row!” Ned roared at the sailors manning their posts in the second raft as it neared the breakers on the island. “Row as if your lives depended on it!” He yelled.
Ahead about a hundred yards Ned saw the first raft sucked in by a gigantic rip tide that had broken loose and mounted the rain soaked shoreline to suck at the first raft, which had been moored well enough at first, but not enough for the mounting tides that were now hammering the shore. Ned knew that rip tides normally were an undercurrent and usually didn’t affect the surface waves at all, but something about this island was different. Darker. More ominous. Dangerous.
The first raft was suddenly hurtled into the air and came streaking towards them, strings of seaweed and loose dirt and rocks flying ahead and behind it.
He crossed himself, and then yelled even louder. “Row as if your lives depended on it. Because they do!”
Harry carried a crystal ball on his right palm which was lit up so brightly that the interior walls of the entrance were sharply delineated, revealing numerous occult symbols and dark pictures, which made even him nervous.
“We are descending into hell.” He warned.
Watson, wiping at the sweat on his brow as he followed, countered. “What do you mean descending? We already are!” He swiveled to eye Sherlock, whose eyes were taking in all the details of their passage as they strode forth. “Why’s it so blasted hot in here, and freezing cold out there?”
Sherlock paused and placed a palm against the nearest wall. He frowned a moment, then eyed Challenger who did the same on his side. “Heat!”
“I suspect we are descending into an active volcano.” Sherlock surmised.
Challenger snorted. “And with our luck is ready to blow.”
Conan laughed. “Listen to us complaining like a bunch of school kids.”
“School kids get to get home after school. We don’t.” Harry shot back. “Now be quiet before the blaggarts inside here get wind of us and send a greeting party.”
Conan shut up.
He followed the others, dreading more and more the end of their path, because it was all becoming more certain to him where they were headed. Challenger eyed his friend. “You know this place?”
Sherlock and the others stopped to look at Conan. “I began a story before I…uh…died and crossed over to here.”
“What kind of story?” Challenger demanded.
Conan swallowed hard, almost afraid to answer as if that would make it all true. “When we ascended this mountain and first encountered the bat creatures I felt a certain familiarity because of the ones I had written into my own story.”
“What was the title of the story?” Harry asked, an anxious tone to his voice. He knew better than most how powerful thoughts were and the creative process as part of that.
“Doom in the Black Seas.”
There was a deathly silence.
“How did it end?” Challenger demanded.
Conan couldn’t summon the courage to tell them. He began to walk forward again. “We should hurry. I suspect we’re running out of time.”
“Why?” Challenger demanded, pulling Conan back to look into his face.
His answer came not from Conan but from the ground beneath them. It shook so hard that they were all thrown from their feet.
Ned and his sailor companions dragged the second raft hurriedly up the beach, the rushing sea water trying to pull them back into it as the rip tides continued to pull at the island, more and more fiercely. But with a great effort they made it to the safety of the nearby trees that anchored the shore about twenty yards inland. It had felt like a million miles from the effort expended. They threw themselves down in the lee of an overarching tree, the water temporarily shedding away from their soaked bodies as Ned stood up to survey the forest about them.
Nils, a swarthy sailor from the shores of the India Isles, cursed, and then sat up finally, catching his breath once more. “It’s as if the devil himself were after us, it is!”
Ned eyed Nils. “Then plainly you’ve never been on the Atlantic this time of year.”
“Oh aye, I have, but the Atlantic doesn’t have those!” He exclaimed pointing at giant bat creatures perched above them in the treetops, their furry wings dripping moisture, their teeth dripping saliva and their blood red eyes glowing with malice.
Ned reached for his pistol, but it was gone. “Oh barnacles!” He cursed.
“Run!” He yelled to his men.
They jumped up and shot for the beach again, only to be blocked by a dozen of the bat creatures who dropped from the sky and hurtled towards them.
Conan was the first back on his feet; his eyes wide open with terror. “We must leave this place at once!” He warned.
Sherlock was next to his feet. “What do you see, Conan?”
“It’s not what I see.” Conan explained. “It’s what I don’t see. The volcano is going to erupt. We’re too late to stop the ceremony. It’s already done!”
Challenger grabbed Conan as he rose. “Tell us the ending of your story!”
Conan eyed his friend. “A huge volcanic eruption wiped this island off the face of the map and hurtled pieces into the sky for dozens of miles around. The explosion is so huge it darkens the skies around the planet for weeks, and in some places brings about premature winters.”
“This is more terrible than we thought, Holmes.” Harry joined in. He pocked his crystal ball. “I agree with Conan. If we don’t leave now, we never will!”
The earth shook again, knocking them from their feet yet again.
Ned and his sailors stood with their backs to a great tree, knives and pistols drawn as the giant bat creatures began dropping to the wet soil about them, to stand stock still, until they were encircled by the creatures. They didn’t move. They just stood there.
Then a huge ground shaking movement began that threw even those dread creatures from their feet. Ned and his men had been braced against the tree and fared well.
“Run for the sea. It’s our only chance!” Ned yelled.
He and the men raced for the shoreline. One of the luckless sailors close to Nils was struck down by a bat wing and engulfed in its embrace. His blood curdling scream of terror stopped them. Ned swung back, and dove upon the bat creature slashing with all his might. He ripped at the gigantic wings, tearing them away, the bat thing screaming horribly as he did so.
He stuck his knife into its throat and blood spurted all over him.
The other sailors joined him.
The fallen sailor lay still, his throat torn out
“All for nothing!” A sailor cried out in dismay, as the bat creatures rose to their feet and surrounded them again.
Ned shook his head. “We don’t ever, ever leave anyone behind. Never, do you hear me! Never!”
The sailors hardened at that moment their nerves and their wills and readied for the battle they knew they couldn’t possibly win, when a gigantic shadow fell across them from above As it did so the bat creatures let out shrieks of terror and hurtled themselves into the sky. As they did so they exploded into fireballs and fell back to the ground, their dying shrieks tearing at the ears of the sailors.
Sherlock and his friends reached the entrance to the mountain temple just as a third earth shaking began. The entrance behind them collapsed, catching Challenger on the shoulder and side. Conan pulled his friend from the falling rubble before he could be engulfed, and the two lay on the shaking ground as the others did their best to stand up.
A giant shadow fell across them the same time as the earth stopped shaking.
Watson froze. “Oh tosh! From the frying pan into the fire.”
Sherlock smiled. “Hardly, Watson. Hardly at all.”
They all looked up.
Challenger, his right arm in a cast, stood with his back to the window, blocking any view from it by the others. They raised glasses towards Conan. “To our author without whom this day might be our last one.”
Jules and Wells drank up the toast, and then lowered their glasses.
“Dear Conan, how in the world did you ever know we would be outside to rescue you?”
“Because as I faced the obvious necessity of our escaping certain death, I also remembered what my dear friend, Challenger had told me inside the mountain.”
“And what was that, Conan?”
“That I had to be careful what I created with my thoughts. And…” He smiled at Challenger, and then at James Moriarity, who looked down at his feet, and then glanced at Jules and Wells with a fresh smile. “And I could think of no one more capable of saving us all at that moment than these two wonderful gentlemen.”
“Besides which James popped up in my mind and reminded me to get cracking!”
Ned, seated in a squat by the fire, plucked out his harmonica. “And fortunately for all of us, it was timely enough to save all of us. And also explains why he sent me, instead of himself to the island, though if he knew that much, why didn’t he just keep us on the boat?”
James looked up. The man who died was a traitor. I had to find a way to get him off the ship and he would never have followed me.”
“And how did you know that? Watson demanded.
“I didn’t like his shifty eyes.”
Everyone laughed, but Watson gave James a knowing look, which James didn’t look away from.
“But what of Captain Nemo?” Harry asked. “No one’s heard a thing from him since.”
Sherlock’s eyes glinted with humor. “Don’t be so sure.”
And with those words Ned began playing a lively tune that everyone joined in with stomping feet and clapping hands.
Watson pulled Sherlock aside. “Then he spoke with you?”
Sherlock continued clapping. “I do believe that Mrs. Hudson is at the front door.”
Watson forgot everything and raced down the stairs.
Harry came alongside Sherlock. “That was mean and cruel of you.”
Sherlock smiled. “Oh, but I did hear her knock. It is always three taps, one soft and two hard.”
Watson flung the front door to the flat open and swept Mrs. Hudson into his arms, causing her to drop her bags to the porch. They embraced a long time, both weeping joyfully in each’s arms, and then Watson let go and like the gentleman he was, lifted the bags and followed her inside, shutting the door behind him with a kick of the back of his right shoe.
Across the street Constable Evans and the Inspector watched the windows at 221B Baker Street from their wagon. “We should go in, father.”
“I suspect now would not be the best time with the news we have.”
“But we’ve got to tell them sooner or later. And besides, Mrs. Hudson is sure to tell them we brought her here and they’ll be curious as to why.”
The Inspector put the Tesla wagon into drive and the engine purred to life. He steered them into a u turn and headed them back towards their station.
“Another day, son. Another day.”
Sherlock Holmes and the Cliffhanger. Part 3: The Turning. A Baker Street Adventure. They're among us!
The monster let out a roar that sounded like water mixed with the sound of a lion, and closed in rapidly on Sherlock and James.
The monster staggered in its charge a brief moment, and then renewed its plunge towards them, its claws dripping acid this time, which caused burning sizzles on the rich and plush carpet on the floor. James kicked the chair nearest him into the creature, slowing it down further, while discharging the rest of his bullets into its head. Putrid matter splattered over the Queen’s shiny desktop and the documents, then oozed in slimy pellets of murky blood red towards the floor, where it began moving of its own will back to the creature, who had staggered to a halt once more.
“Catch!” Sherlock cried out.
James turned to catch old of a tapestry that Sherlock had ripped from the back wall and together they ran forwards towards the creature, catching its thick body in the midst of the tapestry. They staggered for a moment from the impact, and then recovered as the creature struggled to make sense of what they had done, and began pulling it towards the massive window that the Queen had fallen from.
The creature began slashing at the tapestry, causing it to slowly tear. It was a thickly embroidered material, but not so thick as to stop the hard nails of the creature, who tore at the cloth with its nails, while striving to catch Sherlock or James with its gaping mouth of razor sharp teeth it had sprouted.
“NOW!” Sherlock hollered.
He and James gave it all they had and the creature lost its balance and hurtled backwards along with the tapestry and then tilted over the edge of the window and plunged roaring with anger from sight. They fell backwards from the release and staggered on their feet, retrieving their balance to rush for the window opening as the last sounds of the creature vanished.
They leaned out and the Queen was just below the window, glaring angrily up at them.
“What does a lady have to do to get rescued these days?”
Doctor Watson’s thick sideburns bounced heartily as he laughed beside an embarrassed James Moriarity, who sat near the fireplace, warming his hands. Sherlock sat in his favorite chair, tamping his pipe tobacco firm, watching with the hint of amusement upon his lips.
“I dare say it could not have gotten any worse.” James despaired.
Watson stopped laughing, and sat down on the sofa near his friend. “James, you were the fox caught in the glare of the Tesla lamp. Not much you could have done better.”
Sherlock nodded. “James is such a loss when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex.”
James glared at him. “And where is your opposite sex, Holmes?”
Watson laughed again.
“Not likely.” He spurted out.
Sherlock took the teases with good spirits as he usually did these days.
“Gentlemen, there has only been and will ever be one woman in my life. And she has sadly been deported from my world and this.”
James sobered up, his anger fading. Watson looked distressed.
“Oh, come, come dear Watson, it’s not as if we ever really had anything going. Her being an imposter, a traitor, a thief and an ill-mannered and arrogant sport of a woman.”
Having said that Sherlock sighed, his pipe momentarily forgotten. “What God hath wrought, she put asunder, and sadly, her life as well.”
A knock on the flat’s door brought Sherlock from his melancholy and he set his pipe down on the side table next to him, rose and went down the stairs to see to the door, leaving Watson and James alone in a thick sort of silence.
Finally, James spoke up. “I have distressed our friend dearly.”
Watson nodded. “Yes and no. Yes, you reminded him of his loss, but no, he has lost something no man can ever, ever retrieve…the illusion of happiness.”
“Are you saying he never loved this woman he speaks of so infrequently?”
“No. Only that…” Watson’s eyes grew distant as he remembered his own lost love in the Chinas. “Only that sometimes there’s what we have, what we want to have, what we thought we had, and what is really happening with our lives.”
The conversation died when Inspector Bloodstone, Constable Evans and Sherlock came up the stairs. The Inspector eyed the teapot on the table.
“Help yourself, Inspector.” Watson greeted him. “I made enough for all of us.”
“Don’t mind if I do, Doctor.” The Inspector replied, helping himself to a fine china tea cup, a silver spoon, sugar, a dash of honey, and hot steaming tea.
Constable Evans sat down next to James. “Been a long day.”
James smiled. “Is there ever a time when it is not anymore?”
Sherlock sat on his chair again, finished tamping the tobacco into his pipe, struck a long wooden match, lit it, and then took several long drags, before executing a few puffs of hollow smoke that resembled doughnuts.
“You’re getting better with the holes, I must say.” The Inspector said amiably, as he took a chair at the table and sat down to sip at his own tea.
Sherlock acknowledged the compliment with a nod, but his eyes were growing distant.
“I hear the Queen was a bit out of sorts before you left the Tower.” The Inspector said.
James blushed in embarrassment again, and looked away as the Inspector eyed him
“I wouldn’t know.” James said, pretending ignorance.
“Oh come now, James.” Sherlock finally spoke up. “Your strong arm is the one that pulled her from a certain fall, not mine!” Sherlock exclaimed.
“But still, a chivalrous man is not meant to look down a ladies’…” He couldn’t even speak of the torn blouse that had exposed her breasts from the drop she had made and which had so dangerously precipitated her nearly to her death.
“Plus.” Watson joked. “Not many are ever allowed such an intimate view and live to talk about it afterwards. She must like you somewhat, James.”
James blushed an even more deep red at the implications of Watson’s words.
“I’m an honorable man. I would never engage in such actions, or even fantasies thereof.”
Sherlock stood up and motioned for the two to stop. “We must address the problem we face. James has enough on his mind, as do I, without referring to the gentlemanly habits or lack thereof we each purvey to the world.”
“Very well.” The Inspector said. “I shall go first then. I have it quite clear now that we are dealing with the same manner of creature that invaded London some time back. That much is for certain. But what is not certain is how we shall deal with the matter this time.”
He gave Watson a concerned look as Watson squirmed uneasily from the mention of before. But he managed to retrieve his dignity and said. “This time it shall have none of us to lure to a trap or diminish our abilities.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure.” Sherlock cut in, his eyes as cold as ice as he spoke.
Watson gave him a distressed look. “Surely, surely you do not think I…”
Sherlock’s glance softened. “Watson, I could never accuse you of such villainy, even were you one of them. There is too much that has passed between us for that.”
“I agree.” James said, rising to go to the widow and look out. He saw his past times with Watson before his eyes, as well as the long and trying adventure he was kidnapped into, but from which he emerged physically scarred, but not emotionally, and with the woman of his life. Not a bad bargain for a few pounds of flesh, he thought to himself.
“Jules believes that these new ones are not from the original excursion from Mars, but are instead descendants there from.”
Sherlock’s eyes narrowed. “But if there could be two…”
“There could be more.” Constable Evans spoke up, stretching and yawning at the same time. “Anymore tea left, father.”
The Inspector glared at him a moment, then nodded. He didn't like being called father in front of others; he was a very old fashioned man when it came to mixing work and family. Feeling they should be separate.
Constable Evans rose, poured himself a cup and drank it down hot and black. He sighed with relief. “I needed that. May I have another?”
His father, the Inspector, started to pour some more, but the pot was empty.
Watson rose. “I’ll take it and refill it. Be just a moment.”
“Don’t bother yourself, Doctor.” The Constable cut in.
“No bother at all. Besides, it’ll give me a chance to smell all the sweet odors left behind by Mrs. Hudson while she is gone.”
He vanished down the stairs, leaving four deeply amused men.
The Inspector watched where Watson had vanished. “He is like a rabbit caught in a snare.”
“Would that I was so lucky.” Constable Evans quipped.
They all laughed, and then James continued his line of logic. “Logically, if there were descendants…”
“Then they would also have a place of birth.”
“London?” The Inspector asked.
“I think not.” Sherlock said, shaking his head.
“And why do you think that?” The Inspector inquired, obviously expecting some kind of revelation from the detective.
“First, we know that these creatures can hibernate very, very long periods of time.”
“The museum mummy.” James pointed out.
“Yes.” The Inspector agreed. “Go on.”
“Second.” Sherlock continued. “We know that they can imitate any living being.”
“Agreed.” Constable Evans spoke up. “But how does that explain where these new ones have originated from? It could as easily be Paris or even the new colonies as here.”
“I agree.” James joined in. “It does lead to a rather large gap in our knowledge here.”
“Not at all.” Sherlock said, rising from his chair.
He took a map, which had been lying on a bench near the fire and laid it out on the table. The others rose to glance at it as Sherlock stuck a long, artistic finger on the map. “The museum.”
“Where it was first discovered.” The Inspector said.
“Not discovered, Inspector, revealed! Need I remind you that the mummy, or creature that was hibernating, had been brought to the museum from another locale.”
Constable Evans perked up. “Outside of the Britains!”
“Exactly.” Sherlock agreed.
He touched a new spot on the map. “And here is where we must go to nip this in the bud.”
The other men leaned forward to look more closely where Sherlock’s finger gestured.
Watson came up the stairs with a new tray, filled with a fresh teapot and small sandwiches. He froze at the look upon the faces of those about Sherlock.
“Why do I think I’m not going to like this?”
“When does Mrs. Hudson return?” Sherlock asked in a monotone voice.
Watson’s throat tightened. “I am truly not going to like this.”
And then Sherlock told him where they were going.
Before Camelot, before King Arthur. Before it all became the golden age of mankind, he was a child, who played with thunder, and magical creatures of legend.
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