The London sky was overcast with gray clouds. It had been well over a week since sun had shown its face. The evening was falling as people were returning home from work. Streets filled with people going about their menial, daily routines as if programmed to do so the same. Night owls were waking up and preparing to make their nocturnal forays as the last semblance of the day shall seamlessly blend into the dark of the night. London, the first metropolis of the modern world. Its heart despite of being overburdened with constantly rising population and relentless immigration beat as soundly as ever. Always awake with its complex mechanisms which ran for twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year; the great cesspool. It wasn't just a city, but on the contrary a vast, living, breathing organism with mind of its own. The great cesspool.
Stephen Daedalus ran up the stairs of his flat whistling to himself. He felt pretty damn pleased tonight. It had been a fabulous day at work and most importantly, Emily had agreed to come out with him for a date, followed by football weekend. The weekend could not have started on a better note for the young accountant. He had like half hour to get ready, table for two had already been booked at Langdon's Diner, an upscale, trendy place which had become a favorite joint of the guys at the office and they had suggested the same to him. The food there was to die for apparently and wine selection most wonderful. Stephen fished for his key in the pocket before opening the door and letting himself in. Just when the thought of dinner crossed his mind, it also made him realize just how famished he was. A sandwich perhaps? He pondered, keeping his bag and parcel he had brought in along with that on a stack of books in the otherwise messy living room, a glance at which made him frown for the umpteenth time.
A state of stagnancy is what it had been in. The yellow wallpaper with its floral designs was peeling from the right end and yet there had been no change to it. The reason? His silly roommate liked it that way. A distortion in pattern is what she had described it as. Books lay scattered all over every possible inch, covering the tables, chairs and sofas. The subjects were odd and obscure to say the least. One might have assumed the last time they were touched was in the nineteenth century considering how dusty and old some of those volumes were. Yet their order and they way they were arranged had continued to change throughout last nine months he had been living here. Another table in the opposite corner served as a makeshift laboratory. Stains and burns of many a compounds had left their mark on it. Petri dishes and slides lay in disarray, more valuable samples were covered and marked, adjusted into carefully arranged stacks.
Stephen wished he could go and rent a whole place of his own, because truly the flat was magnificent in every other right. Right in the heart of London, to have something this spacious was a luxury which most would have killed for. Hence, the very reason behind him deciding to share accommodation with the woman who had been renting it before him and what had ensued after that was bizarre to say the least. The less he spoke or thought of it the better. She was a regular recreational drug user and when she wasn't busy indulging into that she was visited with strange folk which creeped him out. The extremely rare times she went out, it was often prelude to something even worse. The late night violin playing or blasts of psychedelic trance had given in many a sleepless nights and that would have begun only to scratch the surface of it. The crazy roommate of his seemed to be out for the time being, causing him to breath a sigh of relief. That woman was a ticking timebomb waiting to explode in his opinion.
Pushing those thoughts away, Stephen opened the refrigerator and began to examine the contents and let out a gasp of surprise. As ever, every eatable which one can possibly think of had been dumped out of it only to be replaced by an assorted strange items except bottles of...honey, some vegetables and bottles of chocolate syrup. In the first compartment lay a dead lizard in strange yellow liquid which he could assume only to be ether, in second one was a glittering crystal, next to it sat a strange brew which was giving an extremely pungent stench which had dominated the air around him the instant he had opened the doors and neatly distributed skulls graced the third compartment. Stephen near about wanted to throw up as he looked away from the bizarre sight before as if prompted by some instinct, he touched the jar containing the reptile. In an instant he heard a click behind him. A firm, feminine voice was heard.
"Stephen put that away, unless of course if you want to get shot at." The brown haired youth was baffled and he near about dropped the jar but managed to clutch on to it for his dear life. Fear was apparent in his pale blue eyes. "What the fuck do you think you're doing Sherlock?" He asked, his eyes fixated at the barrel of the gun before they moved towards the woman holding it. She was a mess and not of the kind which most men would have liked to see. Her face was gaunt and eyes hollow. Dry lips which were cracked in various places. It was evening, but she was still wearing the white robe from previous night which covered her thin form. One sleeve of the same was rolled up and it hinted at the zigzagging puncture marks left by the needles. Her black hair lay in a disarrayed state. One might have dismissed her for a madwoman in her present state, but Stephen saw in her eyes and he knew better than that. It was the eyes, jet black eyes which glowed with ferocity. He was compelled to obey and obediently he put the jar back in.
"Now close the refrigerator please." Sherlock commanded him. Beads of sweat had appeared on Stephen's forehead as he complied again, but the gun refused to move away. "San Esteban chuckwall, a specie most rare. Genus, Sauromalus, family Iguanid. Found primarily at, as the name suggests San Esteban Island, Mexico, its natural habitat. Occurring nowhere
else on Earth..and yet one is found in London sewers. Alive
before it died in the hand of the person who discovered him because it was bleeding internally. How and why? Isn't that a puzzle most curious, don't you think so Stephen? It grips my mind, it intrigues me, many a writers would wish to spin tales on this kernel and yet what you do? Keep on wondering about your date and how you will be getting ready for the evening so that you can bed Emily Browning at first opportunity to you. I really pity your existence."
Stephen looked shocked. He blinked couple of times at Sherlock before slowly responding. "How...the hell did you figure about my plans for the evening?" Sherlock shook her head with disdain and simply pulled the trigger. Stephen's jaw dropped open at that, fear filled his eyes.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Loud sounds echoed all over the room only to strike a medium sized gong which Sherlock had installed at the back in the middle. A resounding sound emerged as metal clashed against metal. Smell of gunpowder punctured the air. "Perfect ten!" Sherlock shouted with glee. From downstairs came a muffled cry of surprise with gentle words belonging to none other than Mrs. Hudson came up. "Is everything all right Sherlock? I heard shouting and noises!" Sherlock smiled to herself and shouted back. "Its all fine Mrs. Hudson, you need not worry about anything. Just having some banter, is all!"
Stephen couldn't help but look in absolute shock which was replaced soon by rage. "This is ridiculous. You're a piece of work Holmes. I can't believe you just practiced gunshots in our home!" He shouted as he went to turn until Sherlock's words once again made him stop in his tracks.
"For last eight days you have been talking to the girl on and off. The conversations are small, which means you are yet to become well acquainted with her, but she's someone who has captured your eye. I have heard you mention the name numerous times, frequency rising in last thirty six hours. From 4.7 times per hour to a whooping 8.9 times per hour, that too in my presence as you bring your brain dead friends who push down intellect of this room somewhere way below zero with your talk about football and your mundane card games. Tonight, you bought a new perfume. Not just one but two, one is for women and other is for men. Aqua Blue
by Hugo Boss, and the other one Elle
, Yves Saint Laurent. Now why would a simple accountant who is so careful about everything else he spends his money on suddenly make such huge purchases? He wants to impress someone. The timing of both coincides. You were twenty three minutes late than usual today when coming home from work when you are very precise about your timings at the office with a potential margin of six to seven minutes at the most in your arrival back home. You were trying on various clothing the other day. Tonight is
the night. You want to dazzle her, you want to impress her with a surprise gift. I say you want to bed her because since we started living together, you have gone through six 'relationships' if they can be called that. Emily Browning is supposed to be the seventh."
A self satisfied sneer had broken on Sherlock's face. Oh how much she was enjoying this little game even if it was coming to a close and then the ever dreadful ennui just might set in as she had to wait for answers on the other issue at her hand. "This is bull. For all you know some other friend of mine would be dating a girl named Emily who might be a good friend of mine!"
"You follow her on Twitter, you like her every picture on facebook in last three weeks. You compliment her in one way or another with innuendos and she responds
. That silly expression which you sport all the time gets all the more sillier everytime you chat with her, your lick your lips with tongue, carefully picking your words causing you to talk slowly than you normally do because you want to sound witty, because you want to impress
. A vivid indicator that you are pursuing this girl with some serious obsession."
Color on Stephen's face paled at the elaboration and it was at the exact time footsteps were heard. A fashionable looking woman in her early twenties peeked in, gasping at the strange sight which greeted her. "Is everything alright in here?" She queried in a timid voice. Her chestnut hair were tied in a ponytail and immaculately maintained face hinted at tastefully applied makeup. She wore a white dress and matching black sandals with high heels. A small pearl necklace graced her neck and matching earrings her ears. She clutched on to her purse, her knuckles almost gone white.
"Ah, Miss Browning, welcome to the show!" Sherlock announced with a cheerful grin, gun finally moving away from Stephen before it was placed on the counter.
"Emily!" Called Stephen in excitement and more importantly relief. "Stephen! I came home a little early so I decided to catch you here before time. But what is this
all about Stephen? Why did you have a gun pointed at you?" Queried Emily in a worried and at the same time suspicious tone. "Emily, the man you are about to go out on a date with is a womanizer who wants to bed you and then quickly dump you for someone else. In a nutshell he's an asshole who wants to leave you in a lurch."
Both the man and woman were stunned at Sherlock's bold revelation. But before Emily could react, Stephen beat him to it, pointing his finger at Sherlock. "You! You are the worst woman I have ever seen. Who talks like that? Remind me just why did I choose to respond to your advertisement Miss Holmes?" He asked in an angry tone. He regretted the moment his mind had decided to do that. This was no woman! This was devil reincarnated! The kind of things she indulged into creeped him out to such an extent that he was at a loss to describe it in words. Emily looked about as puzzled as it gets she looked at Sherlock and then back at Stephen. "Is it true what she just said?"
Stephen quickly responded. "Emily, get down. I shall be joining you in few minutes." The girl blinked couple of times before walking down. Stephen looked at Sherlock, shaking with anger. "This is it
! I have had it with you! Screw the deposit, screw the advance payment, I am going out of here. One moment you are popping ecstasy pills, next moment you are studying Zen, one day you have freaking Arabs swarming all over the house, the next day I have to put up with your brandishing a bloody sword. I want sanity. I want peace. I want something normal
, you hear me?" Saying that, Stephen stormed into his room before hurriedly dressing himself up and running down to catch his date.
"Go away, at least the oxygen in the flat won't go to a waste on a pathetic being like you and it was a Katana you moron! An authentic Tokugawa one!" Sherlock shouted back at him, determined to have the last word before slumping down on the sofa on which she had been meditating earlier when Stephen had come in. Soon enough her trembling fingers reached for the syringe and her eyelids lay closed in their transcendental bliss of the drug. What else there was to do, when truth was almost too difficult for the dumb and mundane to follow? An inquisitor, an intellectual left without something to hunt, to consume their powers on was a cripple to say the least.