Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Adventure of the Silent Partner, Chapter 2

Chapter 1 and an explanation.

Basically this is what geeks do in their free time - write terrible self-instert fan fiction as though it were created by another fictional character.

Tonight's selection is the brainchild four authors, and two of them were tipsy for some of it. Enjoy!

Chapter Two: Crimson and Change Over

The smell of dust and honey filled his nose as something large stood on his chest. Weary from the fall, Coren slowly opened his eyes. He was in a musty study under a large antique desk. An English bulldog stood on his chest. He could tell by the name on its collar that its owners had named it "Gladstone."

It sniffed at his shirt collar and then sounded a loud, gruff bark, then lapped gently at his face and wuffled his hair. He could feel warm, sticky slobber in his hairline, but that wasn't all. A syrupy liquid had become entangled in his coffee-colored locks--it was a bright green and dripping from the edge of the desk. It appeared this his impact had shattered a small chemistry set balanced precariously on a stack of worn medical journals.

Coren shot up with a start, dislodging the bulldog, and had to brace himself against the table, for his knees were uncharacteristically weak. Gladstone began to make a snorting-barking noise as it snuffled around his feet; the door swung wide - a statuesque gentleman in a houndstooth dressing gown stood in the doorway. "Gladstone!" the man boomed in a deep British baritone, "I see you have found a guest! Mrs. Hudson, please put the kettle on, this promises to be a long evening."

Disoriented from his collision course with the mysterious Brit's study, Coren could barely make sense of his surroundings. He ran a hand through his tawny strands and pulled it back to examine the nearly fluorescent substance now dripping down his temple. "Don't concern yourself with that too much, it probably won't even take affect for another couple days," the handsome stranger said nonchalantly, "I would offer you a seat, but I'm waiting for my companion to bring me a rag."

The stranger gave the vulnerable detective a knowing smile that brightened his eyes. Even in the dim candlelight, Coren could tell he was devilishly attractive. The houndstooth robe hid what was no doubt a trim and alluring figure. Before Coren could return the expression, a rotund mustachioed man in a scarlet damask patterned dressing gown barreled in. He flailed about like a befuddled, injured animal and glared angrily at Coren. "What is all this then? An intruder! I shall grab my pistol," the other man, obviously a former English military man from his demeanor and accent, exclaimed.

The lithe Adonis snatched the sleeping cap off his chubby associate's head and stood with the most excellent posture Coren had ever seen, "No need to fret, my dear friend. This gentleman means us no harm." The rouge-clad man fumed and puffed out his cheeks, which made him look like a giant tomato, "Don't be ridiculous! Why, he's gotten your experiment all over his tennis whites and--what the devil are you doing with my cap?!"

The florid man's companion sauntered over towards Coren in a memorizing gait and never broke eye contact as he spoke, "Don't get so upset, old fellow. This was a gift from Sarah back when you were engaged? You always hated this particular one and I assume Mrs. Hudson is behind in the laundering, so you were forced to put this one on before you left the bedroom. You won't mind if I allow our new friend to use it to clean himself up a bit."

Despite his earlier promise to let Coren clean himself, the unidentified man immediately set about running the cloth through the detective's hair himself. "It would be a shame," the man murmured as his larger companion uncomfortably took a seat near the fireplace, "were I to allow this muck to obscure your natural hair color any longer." Coren felt his iron control slip a notch or two, and - not ungently - plucked the soiled cloth from his host's hands. "Thank you, but that won't be necessary," Coren admitted gruffly, "if you'll just point me in the direction of your nearest - ah - water closet."

The man nearest the fireplace started briefly at Coren's accent, but the handsome stranger (who had yet to move back from Coren's personal space) merely allowed himself a small smile. "I see our guest is an American, and from the northeastern corner of the country as well. I had gathered as much from your attire, but it is nice to have complete confirmation from your accent."

While the florid-faced man by the hearth merely made a noise that sounded uncannily like "pwah" in reply, Coren's attractive host finally bestirred himself to move further away. Coren found that he missed the proximity, but was relieved when he realized he was being shown the way to the bathroom. It was there, with the door closed firmly behind him, that Coren's sharp mind finally reasserted itself, took in the details of his surroundings, and realized that he might be in quite a situation, indeed. It was no task for him to piece together the puzzle of his current whereabouts. Due to the lack of electrical lighting, the attire, and the atrocious patterned wallpaper he was in the Victorian era, probably late eighties or nineties. He must have been in London specifically owing to the regional inflections in the accents of his two hosts. Doctor Death's infernal contraption must have been a portal to a different time. Coren could only wonder if the mad doctor had been flung back as well.

Coren sighed heavily and looked at himself in the mirror. Most of the strange substance was gone and his tresses had almost returned to their full body. Rubbing his cheek, he despairingly noticed that he had a bit of stubble. Being so dedicated to his job, Coren often neglected the more time consuming hygiene habits. Luckily, the stubble gave his usually taut, boyish features a rugged edge. The thick, dark bristles highlighted his strong jawline and chin. He chewed nervously on his pouty bottom lip; the unshaven look was popular in modern day NYC, but it would not do him any favors in this era. That man must think he was a scoundrel or worse, a sailor!

Coren always had terrible luck in his romantic life. Sure, there were plenty who expressed interest in him and his charm was more than sufficient to attract whomever he chose. Yet, no one really understood him. Sometimes he wondered what was the point of all the rare vinyl recordings and vintage spirits if there was no one to share and appreciate them with.

Shoving these thoughts firmly into a small lockbox labeled "Later" deep in the recesses of his mind, Coren examined his surroundings for any useful tools. The cramped room was a mess, for all that the two men claimed to have a housekeeper in their employ, and Coren did not allow himself to dwell on how the realization there was no overtly feminine hand at work in this household spread through his stomach like warm mead. Two confirmed bachelors, perhaps? The rents in London, even in this time, would indeed make it economical for two men to share the rent on an apartment. No, on a "flat", Coren corrected himself; best to start blending in with his surroundings.

A few moments of shuffling through the rickety cabinet unearthed several flannel cloths, the most useful half of a hairbrush, three-quarters of a men's shaving kit, and a series of alarming chemical stains - really, what HAD these men been doing with lead tetroxide in the bathroom? Coren puzzled over this quandary as he set about performing his toilet with the materials at hand: damp cloths took care of the last of the gunk adorning his dark tresses, but did nothing for the shudder Coren felt when he remembered the phrase "probably won't take effect for another couple days" and the detective mentally noted to keep an eye on his physical health for any signs of poisoning.

With his hair situation sorted - a new part and a few passes with the brush rendered it very nearly respectable - Coren perused his facial hair with a critical eye. His original assessment had been correct, and severe changes would need to be made, here, for him to pass as a member of the non-criminal classes. Facial hair was considered fashionable in this time period, Coren mused, but stubble was simply outré - no, best to embrace the clean-shaven look, at least for the time being. With a sigh, Coren began the work of removing his three-day-old stubble. As an afterthought, he left the sides alone; if he remained in this time period long he might yet need to grow a set of dundrearies or Piccadilly weepers to fit in more fully.

Coren almost made it through the entire shaving process unscathed, but his brilliant mind was reasserting itself yet again, and it demanded to go over the information available. Just as Coren brought his hand down for the final stroke of gleaming razor against soft flesh, he was struck with the realization of just whose flat he had been transported into by Doctor Death's experiment.

"My God," his mind and body jerked with the force of his epiphany. Unluckily, his hand had twitched as well and embedded the razor into his crisply shaven jaw. He instantly pulled back the blade and examined the reddening nick. A small stream of blood dribbled down his neck looking like the Nile after Moses had his way with it. The bloody river traced his pronounced Adam's apple, a pyramid on the Egypt of his throat. Coren sighed in irritation at his momentary miscalculation of his muscle spasms.

The water-closet door burst open and the flustered man adorned in crimson shouted, "Are you quite alright, Sir? By Jove you've been injured, I shall fetch my instruments!" Before Coren could protest and point out to the hyperbolic medical professional that a little pressure would alleviate the flow of his wound, the man returned with a black doctor's case. He wrenched it open and several instruments flew out and fell to the floor with a clatter. As he fumbled around his bag, the tall gentleman stepped into the WC beside him.

"It is only a minor cut, my friend," he spoke steadily in contrast the theatrical series of seizures his companion was experiencing. "Shut up," he barked, "I am a doctor you know! Where did I put that confounded thing?" If eye-rolling had been customary in Victorian England, Coren was certain that was what the taller man would be doing.

With a long, thin hand that appeared suited to playing a stringed instrument like a piano or a viola, he grabbed something in the doctor's case. "Nevertheless, he is our guest and it should be our responsibility to see he doesn't acquire an infection while visiting our residence."

Finally jolted from his stunned observation of the scene before him, Coren saw an opening to confirm his hypothesis, "Yes, it's not everyday one gets the chance to be mended by London's greatest consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and his 'special assistant' Dr. Watson."

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