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Sherlock Holmes the 2nd
Sherlock Holmes, deductively brilliant, legions of fans, in robust Victorian middle age had been bought to an untimely demise by, none other than his arch-nemesis: Moriarty, and now he sat, utterly dejected, in the anteroom of the afterlife.
“The Dean of Re-Admissions will see you now” a cherubic secretary cheerfully piped
Sherlock shuffled in to the plush office and sat down with a profoundly expressive sigh
“Ah, good man, thanks for waiting” said the Dean; dapper, radiant and suave enough to sell life insurance to the recently deceased.
He brushed a manicured finger over some parchments in front of him.
“Now I see here you want to apply for another go, hmmm?” He smiled encouragingly
Holmes, shrugging off the nagging sensation that he was being humoured as kindly as a baby, rose up in his chair to put forward what he fully expected to be his final case.
“Well, yes, absolutely. I was only getting started really. I had just worked out how to combine total attention, subconscious intuition, logic-trees and sensory kinaesthesia; I was solving cases in minutes and was just getting properly famous; they were even starting to write books about me! Its damned__” here he stopped with a sudden stricken look of guilt and winced as he waited for the Dean to disapprove
“It’s quite alright dear chap” the Dean’s voice could have made Gentian taste like honey “You can swear as much as you like around here, no-one’s actually judging you anymore”
“Ahh, well…”and Sherlock, with a rush of unfamiliar nerves hurried to finish his appeal “well you see I just think I could make a real difference down there, you know, finish the job, make the world a better place, that kind of thing…? His last words trailed off into a question and he sat back again, another wave of despondency pushing him down like a mittened fist.
Who was he kidding? He might not be flesh and blood anymore but he still had his wits, no-one came back from the dead, his chips were down and his time was up
He sighed again, deeper this time, the sigh of one who truly given up the ghost.
After a respectful moment of silence, the Dean, who had been looking on at Sherlock, with what could only be described as genuine benevolence, gently spoke again
“You know virtually everyone who arrives here is so utterly delighted to finally be at peace that you couldn’t persuade them to return at any cost…”
Sherlock’s eyebrow rose at that, but he said nothing. The Dean continued
”You really did have a most remarkable career on Earth; we all enjoyed it you know. There is nothing quite like a good play to make eternity so much more enjoyable for all concerned, don’t you think?
Again Sherlock was silent, but his every attention was on every word
“You see Holmes, it is perfectly possible to arrange a re-admission in the right circumstances, but you would have to understand several things at the outset.
Sherlock’s incorporeal brain was riveted.
“Firstly, if you go in, your entire memory is wiped, utterly, no ifs or buts"
“Secondly you can’t go back to do the same thing in a slightly modified form, beats the entire purpose. One life, one path. You can’t go back to being a Detective; you would have to choose something completely different to finish whatever it is you believe you haven’t finished yet”
Sherlock opened his mouth to speak
“Thirdly and finally, however things may seem in the game itself, reality is something rather far removed. This entire setting and conversation for example, it’s all in your own head, in quite a few ways you are actually talking to yourself right now, if you were, for example, a Chinese super sleuth, you would be talking to one of your ancestors at this moment....
However much you might like it to be up to a higher power you are entirely the one who chooses if and when you go back in. What’s more, before you make your final decision you get a Preview and that, my friend, is the kicker...”
The Dean gently nudged over a tray of tea and muffins. Sherlock, his mouth still open, was glad to find something to put inside it. He sipped the perfect tea, and chewed ruminatively. Outwardly and always he was the dapper Gentleman, inwardly his mind was racing at lightning speed.
He sighed again, but this could not have been a more different sigh than the previous unwordable exhalations of despair. Now he sighed the contented sigh of a man who has finally and irrevocably met a match he knows he will never meet. Moriarty was the only one who had approximated such pleasure in him in his ahhh, previous life. He took a punt
“I shall be a great ruler, a world ruler!” he exclaimed
And instantly he saw it all, his fortuitous birth and meteoric rise to the greatest power and position on Earth. The ascent, the victory and in the same split infinity of the eternal Now he saw the utter, desolate corruption of his very soul and all that he touched. For all who rise from their own ambition are destined to eventually wear hate on one foot and pride on the other.
Gasping, reeling from the vision but never one to give up at the first stop Sherlock cried
“Well then, I shall found a community of love and peace!”
And again, in an instant he saw his birth, a beautiful baby girl this time, her growth into maturity, wisdom, beauty; a remarkable presence that attracted hundreds and thousands from far and wide who lay their erstwhile troubles at her feet and did everything and all that they were bid to live in peace and harmony.
And equally as much in that instant of spinning, dizzying univeral possibility there came to Sherlock the devastating truth that not a single one of the community was living in truth. The illusion of faith that another could give salvation was somehow even worse than the previous brutal corruption of his imaginary world domination. He saw the community, like all that came before it, as it fractured into schisms, hierarchy and meaningless ritual… he saw that it was better that it never was.
Sherlock sat, as motionless as a stone. He concentrated as he had never before, a hundred thousand possibilities raced and rushed through his mind and as the images collided and crashed into one another he saw, like a full moon suddenly appearing through roiling black clouds, the blue and green Earth, lovely and untouched by his every fantasy.
“It doesn’t matter what I do does it, it’s not about me is it? It’s about her…”
The Dean found a seat next to Sherlock and gently pressed his arm.
“Good chap, knew you could get there, you’re absolutely right, doesn’t matter one iota what you do or who you are. Alone, none of us amount to a thing. It’s all about the all, that’s all” He smiled, genuinely happy, and it was impossible not to smile with him.
“Alright then!” declared Sherlock. “Suffering then, it’s insufferable. I propose to go and at least have a go at reducing it, a bit. Surely somehow one can make a difference there, no?”
He waited for the visions, nothing came.
He looked anxiously at the Dean, who sat as serene as a Cheshire cat.
“Ahh, I’m not going to find this easy am I?”
Now it was the Dean’s turn to be silent, listening
“People don’t want you to interfere with them, do they? They have their own point to be there and you really ought not to get in its way, should you?
Again the Dean just looked, and smiled
“But if we can find a way to understand this... (he lifted his hands, wide and open) ...this here, there, and if we could somehow do it together then the same peace that people would rather die for here could come to us, still alive and sentient, down there, couldn't it?"
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