Post-RF

Spooky Action at a Distance

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson looking shocked[Warning: This is a story about Einstein, quantum physics, and John “Three Continents” Watson in action. There’s an expletive not deleted and reference to the physical response of male anatomy. Apologies in advance to any physicists reading this for the liberties taken with the science. Hey, don’t blame me. You guys named it entanglement.]

 

by J. H. Watson

(~1,300 words)

A chilly autumn rain started again. Umbrellas popped up; a business man raised a newspaper above his head; a young man in a pea coat shook like a dog and said, “Fuck.” Sherlock Holmes huddled deeper into a door frame, watching the entrance to an alley down the street. He sipped the hot coffee he’d just purchased at the cafe on the corner. He frowned. He forgot the sugar.

#

John Watson glanced around the room as he took a sip of his coffee. He made a face, looked to his right and said to the woman beside him, “I’m sorry. Apparently, I just drank your coffee. I’ll buy you another.”

She looked up from her phone screen, smiled and asked, “Are you flirting with me?”

John thought the woman had a lovely smile. He returned it. “No. But I’d be happy to flirt with you if you’d like.”

“What made you say that’s not your coffee?”

“Someone’s put sugar in it.” He wrinkled his face remembering the cloying taste, looked around for its possible owner.

“Yes. You did.”

“I did?”

“I saw you.”

John set the cup firmly on the counter and stared at it. A small dark stain spread slowly towards him where the coffee slopped over on impact. Rings of coffee waves rippled from the center.

“Is everything all right?” the woman asked.

John studied the cup as he replied, “Yeah. It’s just I don’t drink sugar in my coffee. I never drink sugar in my coffee.”

The woman beamed another smile at him. “Ah. Spooky action at a distance.”

“What?” John thought, Oh, great. A nutter. A pretty nutter, but still…

“Einstein’s comment on quantum entanglement. Oh. Right. You aren’t with the conference.” John took the opportunity to glance down at the woman’s chest. It was a nice chest. Presently it was adorned with a name badge declaring her to be Dr. Chris Cooke attending the International Conference on Quantum Implications and Intelligent Systems Engineering. Dr. Cooke asked, “Do you know anyone who drinks coffee with sugar?”

“I… used to.”

“Two spoonsful?”

John looked up sharply. “How did you know that?”

“That’s what you put into your coffee.”

For a moment John felt weak. Dr. Cooke said, “Are you alright? You look a bit pale.”

“I’m… I’m fine.” John shoved the disturbing images from his mind. He concentrated on Dr. Cooke’s smile. “I guess I was just… spooked. Like Einstein.”

Dr. Cooke’s smile widened. “Ooh, I like that. You could say Einstein was spooked by quantum theory. I don’t suppose I could steal that for my lectures…”

“Feel free.”

“Thank you… You know my name, but I don’t know yours.”

“Sorry. Dr. John Watson.”

“Please to meet you, Dr. Watson.” Dr. Cooke looked at John and smiled again.

John held her gaze, returned an even wider smile and replied, “John, please. So what’s quantum… What did you call it?”

“Entanglement?”

“Quantum entanglement, right.”

“Well, you know how particles normally exist in their own state?”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“Sometimes, two particles act on one another so that the pair can only be described as a single quantum state. We call that pair entangled.” As she spoke, Dr. Cooke’s eyes widened, and she leaned slightly forward.

John leaned in closer as she said, “When one particle spins right, the other spins left, even if they are millions of miles apart. The particles are always connected and they act on one another instantaneously, behaving as one. That’s why Einstein called it ‘spooky action at a distance.’” Their two heads were nearly touching now. John noticed the deeper blue-green flecks in her pale blue-grey eyes. Long dark lashes stroked creamy skin when she blinked. She continued in a sultry voice, “Einstein thought Quantum Mechanics flawed because the affect of one particle on the entangled partner appeared to be faster than the speed of light.”

“Fascinating. May I buy you a drink?”

“I don’t really think I need any more coffee. I’m stimulated enough.”

“There’s a very nice restaurant in this hotel and I’m sure it has a bar.”

“I suspect you’re right. There’s also a mini-bar in my room.”

John stood up and tossed some money on the counter as Dr. Cooke collected her bag. One of the bills landed in the spilled coffee, soaking it up, marking it.

#

Sherlock dropped the offending shopping bag on the sales counter. “Excuse me. You apparently gave me someone elses purchase.”

He glowered at the scrawny 26-year old sales clerk from Surrey who clearly had no medical need for those glasses nor the large quantity of alcohol, in unfortunate combinations, consumed the night before in a South London basement and on an East London rooftop, where she wound up cleaning the vomit off her shoes of someone male, judging by the aroma impregnating her sweater, who’d also consumed too much alcohol mixed with MMDA and West Indian soup made with an excess cumin. As she attempted to casually slip her phone under the counter, Sherlock observed she was looking for a new flat — and a new boyfriend.

The girl peered over her plastic frames at Sherlock for a moment before opening the bag and pulling out the sweater inside. “No. This is yours. It’s what you bought. I remember.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Do I look like someone who would wear…” Here words did not so much fail Sherlock as get censored by the filter of his former roommate. He waved an accusing and dismissive hand at the repugnant garment. “…That?”

The sweater was a deep red with black and white geometrics spreading from the neckline down to the shoulders and chest. Leather patches were stitched at the elbows on the sleeves. The yarn was a machine-washable blend. The sales clerk tilted her head and replied, “I thought you were trying to make an ironic statement.” Sherlock merely stared at her. She looked at the receipt and pushed it towards him. “Is that your signature?”

Sherlock glanced at the “Sigerson” scrawled in his writing. The strangled silence tightened between them as the sales clerk waited. “Yes,” he finally conceded.

“So I got it right and you’re returning it?”

“Yes.”

“It was a sale item.”

Sherlock waited this time, an eyebrow raised in question, until the clerk flicked a strand of her dark hair off her face, sighed in resignation, and added, “So I can only give you an exchange or in-store credit.”

“Fine. Where are your dress shirts? Perhaps a dark purple. Aubergine.”

The sale clerk sneered. “So you are wanting something ironic?”

#

“I like your shirt. I like a man who’s well-dressed but not boring.” Dr. Cooke said as she handed John a glass of scotch from the mini-bar and settled beside him on the sofa. She opened her laptop and turned it on.

“Oh, uh, thanks.”

She slid the laptop where he could see it as well and shifted beside him. “It’s a very good color for you. What do you call it? Thistle or heliotrope?”

“I call it purple.” John could feel the heat where their thighs touched. He took a sip of his drink. “You know, I went in to buy a sweater. I don’t know how I ended up with this shirt.”

“More spooky action. Maybe you’d be interested in seeing my abstract for the conference.” Dr. Cooke looked at John over the rim of her glass and arched an eyebrow.

John smiled, leaned towards her and said, “I’d love to see your abstract.”

#

Sherlock awoke in the small hours of the morning from a disconcerting dream about a school exam he’d forgotten to prepare for involving calculations for momentum and thrust. Under the covers he had an erection.

 

### End ###

 

 

 

 

Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night

By J.H. Watson

(~ 250 words)

I’m not dead, John. It was all a hoax. You were right. The hoax was a hoax.

John Watson felt a chill slither down his collar. He shivered, someone walking upon his grave. Heavy wet drops slid down his cheeks like the cool caress of dead fingers.

An explosion of thunder slapped John awake. The bench on which he sat shuddered. People in the park ran, fleeing for shelter from the storm. Behind John a muffled foomph, foomph, foomph sound, like the blades of an army helicopter starting, approached. Dazed and disoriented, John turned slowly to look.

A large black bird landed and stared at him.

Sherlock Holmes observed the bird study him from just inside the desolate shed. The bird eyed Sherlock warily but did not flee, cautiously sharing the space. The bird had obvious trust issues. Gently Sherlock tossed it a crumb. The bird pulled back, feathers ruffled. Slowly it hobbled towards the morsel, casting one last suspicious glance before hungrily feasting.

The rain beat rapidly on the shed roof. A drop fell on Sherlock’s face. He slid deeper into the shadows. The bird tilted it’s head, keeping one eye on the man and one on the rain.

Sherlock broke off another bit of sandwich and tossed it to the bird saying, “It won’t be much longer, John. The storm is already breaking. Soon we’ll be able to go home.”

You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
— Lennon & McCartney

## End ##

For the Sherlock Seattle Convention, I created a mini-poster handout with this flash fiction on the back. The .png version of front and back is below. They’re designed to be printed 2-up on 8.5″ x 11″ paper.

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Have You Done It Yet?

By J.H. Watson

(App. 650 words)

The man across from him was French. Not Parisian, Sherlock knew that. Sherlock would not admit that he couldn’t deduce from where exactly, but was pleased he could deduce it was from someplace near another border; he thought not Switzerland, but perhaps Spain, Basque maybe. The man was of no value to Sherlock, simply a courier delivering an obscure item. The man sat across from Sherlock saying nothing as he waited for his food to arrive.

Sherlock reread a text on his phone as sipped his tea. He grimaced.  Noticing, the Frenchman asked “Les mauvaises nouvelles?”

“Not bad news. Bad tea. La mauvaise thé.”

The frenchman grunted. Sherlock glanced back down at his phone. He yawned, then rubbed his eyes and his face with one hand. “Fatigué,” said the frenchman flatly.

“Yes, I’m tired,” Sherlock said. He stared at the phone. Sherlock started talking, an old compulsion to air his thoughts taking advantage of his weariness. The frenchman sat still, said nothing. He was a sounding board, as good as a skull, though not as good as a friend.

Sherlock said, “I’m tired of the waiting. I’m tired of all of this. I feel like Continue reading

Everybody Shut Up!

 

By J.H. Watson

(~ 700 words)

 

At first I missed his voice.

There’d been times when I’d thought I’d go mad if he didn’t stop talking, talking, talking. He would talk for hours, for days; once he talked for three days straight, at least I assumed he’d continued when I’d fallen asleep, or gone to the loo, or even went out to get the shopping. I know he’d continued to talk when I’d gone to Dublin, missing nothing except my absence.

Now I missed his voice. I can still hear it in my head. Don’t tell my therapist I said that, she would misunderstand. But I do hear it in my head. Those rich, plummy, public school tones; that caustic, snide, superior note. I could read his mind with just a word. John, he would say, and I’d know whether to draw out a suspect or a gun. He could play me like his violin, and treat me as cavalierly — wanting me to hand, but setting me aside at a moment’s distraction. He once said he thought better when he talked out load — so he talked to me.

Then the talking would stop and a silence would begin.

And now I miss the silence. There wasn’t one silence, he had a quiver full of them that he’d fired at me. There was the cold, hard silence of his displeasure. The brittle, bright silence of his injured ego. A silence so taut the air seemed to vibrate around me when his mind was fully engaged, and I knew he would shortly release a brilliant string of deductions. He had an ominous, suffocating silence that seemed to hang like a sodden cloud when he was bored. I miss the cacophony of his silences. But now the deafening silence doesn’t stop, will never stop, there is no end to this dead silence.

So I talk to a skull named Billy to keep from being buried in the silence.

#

I thought I’d miss the quiet satisfaction I got from John’s listening. He listened actively; not in that fatuous way that therapist do when they “actively listen,” parroting your last remarks, twisting them into question like one of John’s insecure dates trying to appear interested and caring. He listened with his whole being, striving to catch the flow of my quicksilver thoughts, not knowing his efforts caused mine to split and tumble about like beads of mercury prodded with a rod until they suddenly coalesced into a single, bright pool of insight.

But what I miss is the sound of him.

His comings and goings in his solid shoes, his maddening two-finger typing that never found a consistent rhythm, his crap telly braying in the background, his giggling with his gaggle of girlfriends, then the shushing and murmuring before the predictable rhythm of his creaking bed and muffled exclamations as he had sex upstairs. In the morning would be tiptoeing down the stairs, the whispering and kiss at the door, followed by the unconscious humming as he made coffee. Even when he was quiet, he wasn’t still. I find myself waiting and realize I’m waiting for the sound of John’s shifting in his chair; leaning forward and back, his weight sliding from his left hip to his right — there and back again, his limbs moving with a restlessness that told me in the first moments of meeting that he was a man who craved action as much as I craved mental stimulation.

I hear him in my head sometimes, an admonishing “Sherlock.” Or that tight, strained rumble as he erupts into a verbally violent rage pouring forth some pent up frustration because he cannot keep up with my reasoning. He yells well.

The other day a waiter set a cup of tea upon my table and I said, “Thank you, John.” The waiter stopped, startled, and asked, “How did you know my name?” I told him I’d seen it on the seating roster. I lied. The cup and saucer had rattled exactly the way they would when John set tea beside me when I was working. Lost in thought, I’d spoken automatically.

In this well-built room, the sounds of the city and its inhabitants fall deadened. I cannot sleep in peace.

 

# End #

Congrats, Mycroft, on the Royal Success-ion!

After reading all the rumours about the Duchess of Cambridge looking at pink baby clothes and requesting pink items for her baby shower and  the subsequent speculations in the tabloids that the new heir to the throne would be a girl, which was followed by some rather studious revisions to the Order of Succession law — which very nearly didn’t get passed in time, — only to have the baby be a new little prince after all, I couldn’t help but see a certain person’s hand in all of this…

A Succession of Events

By J.H. Watson

(~ 875 words)

 

Dr. John Watson accepted a glass of whiskey from a totally silent staff member of the Diogenes Club. The unsolicited scotch meant Mycroft Holmes wanted something from John Watson. John sipped his scotch and found it an extremely expensive, very old, and probably very rare single malt whiskey. Correction, Mycroft Holmes wanted something very big from John Watson.

Mycroft Holmes sat across from Dr. Watson speaking softly into his mobile phone, and it says a great deal about the man that, even though his CV would state Mycroft  “held a minor position in the government,” he was talking with a Vice-Premier of China. Mycroft finished his call and slipped the phone into his suit breast pocket before offering a crocodile smile to John.

Mycroft said “I have need of someone who can pass for an army doctor.”

“I am an army doctor,” John replied.

“Then it should be a piece of cake for you.”

“What exactly should be a piece of cake?”

John’s therapist had put the phrase “trust issues” in her evaluation case notes. Mycroft knew this. John knew that Mycroft knew. It pretty much summed up their relationship.

“How’s the drink?”

“Excellent. Which is why I want to know exactly what you want me to do and why you need someone who can pass for an army doctor.”

Mycroft simply offered another smile. “There will be a car waiting for you when you leave here,” he began. There was always a car; sleek, black, sophisticated, expensive, like a first-class British brolly. It might even be the same one that had picked John up off of Gower Street and brought him to the Diogenes Club.

Mycroft’s phone must have vibrated because he stopped and pulled it out of his pocket with the faintest crease to his brow. He glanced at it and made a mild face of displeasure, setting the phone on the table beside him. Mycroft continued, “In the car you will find a uniform, identification, a phone, and everything else you will need.”

“Need for what exactly?” John asked.

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The One Fixed Point in a Changing World

By J.H. Watson
(~ 2,000 words)

 

John Watson stood alone on the edge of a tor gazing across the bleak, isolated sweep of Dartmoor. Dark clouds roiled overhead as a chill wind nipped his ears. The binoculars dangling from their strap weighed heavily upon John’s neck and occasionally thumped against his chest like a hanged man on a gibbet. John glanced briefly at the map in his hand and then again at the panorama before him, trying to orient himself in this empty land.

“What’s that?”

John looked up to see his best friend and partner, Sherlock Holmes, standing atop a rocky prominence soaring above. Sherlock stood in a typical Sherlock pose, stylish black tweed coat flaring about him, making him look taller, hipper, cooler than other people without looking like an obvious plea for attention. His arm jutted straight out commandingly pointed toward the distance. There was no one but John around to see this dapper act of dominance. It both exasperated and pleased John.

One the one hand, Sherlock’s attempt to place himself in a literal ascendency above, putting John in the subordinate position, was annoying. On the other hand, the fact that Sherlock felt the need to put on this civilized equivalent of beating his chest, even without other spectators, showed he recognized John as another alpha male Sherlock wanted to impress.

John smile ever so slightly to himself at his analysis. All those Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder therapy sessions had not been entirely wasted.

John peered through his binoculars, consult the map, and replied, “It’s Moriarty. That’s an ancient name for the devil.”

Suddenly John was aware that he was not holding binoculars but a black mobile phone. From it came Sherlock’s voice, in a sepulcher whisper, saying, “Good-bye, John.”

John looked up as Sherlock spread his arms and took a step forward into the air. John yelled, “Sherlock!” and took his own step — into the Grimpen Mire. He struggled to pull himself out of clinging morass. He felt the cold, clammy, deadly grip of the bog as he struggled in the sucking muck, never taking his eyes off his friend plunging towards the black rocks below.

John stretched himself out across the ground, grasped a spindly thorn bush and heaved with all his strength. There was a stab of pain as he dislocated his left shoulder, but he was free from the mire. He stood up, and as he stood cradling his damaged arm against his body for support, he discovered he was no longer in civvies, but in his combat gear and there was blood spreading across his chest.

John took three steps towards his falling friend and as Sherlock hit the solid black ground, John heard a click beneath his boot and froze. A glance down confirmed that he’d stepped on a land mine. A slight reduction in pressure would detonate it, blowing him into a red rain that would soon be absorbed by the surrounding peat.

He looked at Sherlock lying on his back, still, pale eyes open to the sky, the haze of death already spreading across the corneas. John looked down once more, then at his friend where blood flowed from Sherlock’s head and streamed down the rocks, red on black, like a macabre parody of the black coat’s red button hole.

John sighed.

And lifted his boot —

He bolted awake, momentarily disoriented, his breath shallow and fast, matching the beating of his heart. A sheen of evaporating sweat cooled his face. John took several deep gulps of air, letting them out through his nose, but making a small mewing noise. Then he recognized where he was and lay back in his bed, draping his arm across his face to block the light, or possibly the tears leaking from the corners of his eyes.

Despite the fact that there was no one else there, John still felt ashamed at the tears. He’d thought he was past the tears.

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What Happened, John?

 

By J.H. Watson
(~1,700 words)

[Author’s Note: Absolutely slammed with work right now, but John and Sherlock wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote this one. I’ll be doing a bit about Season 3 later this week. Thanks for your patience.]

“What happened, John?”

God, how John Watson hated that question. It seemed to be how his therapist started every session lately. Of course, it would probably have helped if he saw her a bit more regularly.

But he’d see her and things seemed to be going better, so he’d skip the next session. And maybe the one after that. And sometimes the one after that. And then, well, then something would happen and he’d call up and make a new appointment.

John sat for a moment, silent. His therapist sat silent as well. John licked his lips and said, “Notcertain.”

“What?”

John flattened his lips in a pinched frown before clearing his throat and saying, “I’m not certain.”

“What do you mean?”

So he told her about New Year’s and Sherlock’s birthday and what he could remember and what he couldn’t explain the next morning and how he’d been feeling like he was being watched, which might be true, but he hadn’t wanted to ask Mycroft and find out if it was true because it would just make him angry, or angrier, and whenever he thought of Mycroft he wanted to punch Mycroft and John figured that wasn’t a very healthy impulse on a lot of levels and what he really wanted for his life to just be normal.

He didn’t tell his therapist that he was really starting feel like he might be losing his mind from grief.

“What do you mean by normal, John?”

Oh, hell. Now I’ve stepped in it, he thought. Don’t say anything crazy.

“You know. Getting up and going to work at a decent job, a night out with friends from time to time. A girlfriend. Maybe with time it becomes serious and we get married, have kids, a mortgage. You know. I want to settle down.”

“Is that what you really want, John?”

No! What I want is a bloody miracle. I want Sherlock Holmes to walk through that door and to have it all the way it was before with his brain racing, my adrenalin pumping, and us solving crimes back at 221B. But that’s not going to happen, is it?

Instead, John answered, “Yes.” It was the answer he knew she wanted.

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No! You?

By J. H. Watson

(App. 1,000 words)

[Author’s Note: Right. If I’m late to the Seattle Sherlock Birthday Party, it’s not my fault. I’d timed everything perfectly, but the boys had other ideas and insisted I write this and post it before I leave. I’ll be back later to fix the typos and what not, but right now, like the White Rabbit, I’m late.]

John Watson awoke with a hangover and a desperate need for the loo. He sat up groggily on the sofa. The blanket fell to the floor beside his shoes. Funny, he didn’t remember taking off his shoes or getting the blanket.

As he stumbled in his stocking feet to the bath room, he ran through the fragments of what he could remember. He’d stopped at a pub for a drink on his way back to his flat. A routine he’d developed, and probably should stop, every since New Year’s Eve when he thought he heard… well, he should probably just avoid pubs for awhile.

There’d been some idiot with one of those tabloid rags with Kitty Riley’s name on it. She’d done a piece for Sherlock’s birthday raking up the coals of the past by cobbling together a few quotes from people who believed Moriarty was real and rehashing Brook’s bits of lies and half-truths. That was when the drink became drinks. Things were a bit fuzzier after that.

And louder. John remembered some louts about half his age making some snarky comments about posh fakers and wankers and eventually John threw the punch.

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For The Fandom Who Waits

I wasn’t planning on writing today. I’ve got a lot work and cleaning to do, but Sherlock and John had other plans for me. So I hope you enjoy.

And a Happy New Year

By J.H. Watson
(~900 words)

It had been an awful mistake. John Watson knew he should not have gone with Harry to a New Year’s party. But his therapist insisted he get out more, mingle, meet people and she was becoming suspicious of the meet-ups with Stamford and his coworkers, the dates, and the other social outings he invented. He’d had a row with Harry after he’d found her, drink in hand, chatting up someone by the bar. The drink was obviously not her first despite her promise of sobriety. Now John was alone again, a little drunk, a bit despondent, uncertain of his direction.

A sudden rush of people spilled out from a restaurant sweeping John into the crush. As he looked for an escape, he realized the restaurant was Angelo’s and that he must have come up Northumberland. He’d must have come this way by old habit. He’d avoided the area for months. Ever since he’d moved out of Baker Street. He wondered for a moment what Mrs. Hudson was doing tonight, if she was also alone. Perhaps he ought to check. No. He couldn’t go back there. Not yet. Certainly not tonight.

The crowd pressed around him had been counting down and now a cheer went up as Big Ben chimed, bells rang, horns honked. People began the indiscriminate kissing and hugging of desperate desire.

Above the noise came the sound of a violin and, as the individuals picked up the tune and began singing quavering versions of Auld Lang Syne, John Watson froze. “Sherlock?” he whispered. He looked quickly in the direction the music came. Through the swaying bodies he glimpsed a tall, thin figure in the shadows. As he pushed his way through the throng, he called out, “Sherlock!”

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