Shades of Gray. He met the woman of his dreams. Be careful what you dream! Available at Amazon now for 99 cents!
Available at Amazon now for 99 cents. Click on Shades of Gray to purchase.
She's beautiful. She's intelligent. She's probably the best thing that could possibly happen to Johnny. Only two problems: She was a cartoon and not real and he was in for a helluva lot of trouble that was real!
Available at Amazon now for 99 cents. Click on Shades of Gray to purchase.
His whole life revolved around comic books, but now he was about to meet the one comic book he can't put down and she's going to knock his socks off!
It's Saturday Night Live in outer space as four college grads seize the moment and launch an ancient pyramid that is secretly a spaceship from Atlantis buried for tens of thousands of years.
What starts out as a lark by four students intent on making a name for themselves turns into an exciting and one of a kind adventure filled with laughter, danger and aliens you'd never expect to encounter...anywhere!
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The Scoundrel of Hyde Street. Doctor Watson Story from the Baker Street Universe. Doctor Watson meets the Invisible Man, Professor Langdon.
The Scoundrel of Hyde Street
A John Watson Story
By John Pirillo
Bitter and a bit worn down from his tour of duty in the Chinas, John was more than happy to shed his skin of soldiery and settle down into a more sedate life, but little did he know that it would almost immediately erupt into something much less than sedate, and much more than happy. His first night home, he found a one nighter on Hyde Street. Had he been in a better space, perhaps he would have chosen more wisely for his overnight stay, but being newly discharged from the war, and disembarked from a very long voyage across the seas, his only thought was of getting a good night's rest on something that didn't move up and down and right and left.
He felt his shirt pocket to make sure his needle and thread were there. His good luck during the war. Once they had spared him a gunshot to his heart. Smiling, he let go, assured they were there, and headed for the flats he had heard about.
So when he stashed his gear in the corner of the room near the door. It was a small flat. Barely room enough for a stove, a fireplace and a single bed; he was more than ready to collapse on the rather old sheets and worn feather quilt that adorned it. He wasn't used to even that high a quality during his war duties, spending most of his sleeping time huddled in dirt ditches, avoiding being sniped, or bitten...worse yet...by the Ching Ha Wolves...shape shifters that the Chinese used to do their dirty work...much like the marines of Her Majesty.
Their official name was Canis lupus chance, canis lupsu laniger...the Tibetan Wolf. The reason they came off with the other more strange name was that Ching Ha, the leader of the shape shifters, and a power sorceror of the Dark Arts, had a great love for wolves, and his team in honor of him...he died from a stray silver bullet fired by a soldier...named themselves after him, but keeping the name of wolves for themselves.
Except that these soldiers had huge jaws armed with jagged teeth and feet and hands loaded with overly sharp, pointed claws. He sweats even thinking of those nightmare beasts. Part of the reason for the war in the first place was that the Duke of the Germanies had been assassinated by such a beast and that had precipitated the Europes into war with the Orient. A war that neither side could win, but both desperately sought to.
That war had gone on for almost two decades. Costing the lives of countless thousands of young men on both sides. Most had died from gunshot, or explosions, but many had also died of arcane means...black magic, spells of obliteration, translation and death.
John was sick of the whole gamut...whether it was rifles, knives or hand guns. He swore he would never carry a gun again or knife, but as soon as he disembarked he was met by a young man who wanted to tend to his war wound. He was a volunteer of Her Majesty, seeking to make a name for himself. His name was Langdon. His end goal was to teach classes, but for now, tending to the war wounded was his mainstay and his livelihood.
As John sat at the booth set aside for such as him, Langdon very cheerily tended to his wound. "I suppose this is going to be a bother to you most of the rest of your life."
"I hope not."
He smiled at John. "I as well. But..."
John nodded. "You like what you do, don't you?"
"I love it."
He said that as he pulled a knife out to extract a fragment of a silver bullet from John that had lodged near his main artery. "Nasty little bugger this."
"I know. The blasted thing keeps wriggling to get away from me."
"Don't let it wriggle into my artery!" John warned.
Langdon jerked the wriggling bullet piece into the air, where it made a sizzling sound and a soft sigh, then went limp. "Gotcha!"
John laughed. "You sound like a foot ball Captain winning the goal."
Langdon smiled, and then gave John a solemn look. "Every life I save is a goal much more rewarding than any sports goal I could ever achieve."
Finished, he put his gear away and spoke to an Orderly outside the booth. "Next."
He rose and offered his hand. "Please keep in contact. You seem the sort to always have a next thing you're up to."
John rose and offered his good hand. "I should hope so. And now that I've seen a knife used so skillfully and in such a tender way, I am coaxed to reconsider my vow to never touch a weapon again."
Langdon smiled warmly. "Not all weapons are of mass destruction."
John and he shook hands a long time, and then exchanged addresses. "Mine will be good only for a few days." John warned.
"Then please keep me advised of any changes."
"You as well." John returned.
The two shook hands again and John wandered off, feeling a bit dazed by the experience, but with a warm glow in his heart. It was the first time in a long time that he had some hope of a more normal life once more.
Doctor Watson? He asked himself with a sudden amount of consideration. His heart felt this kind of fuzzy glow for a moment, and then he shook his head. "I'm fooling myself. How could I ever afford such an occupation on my pension?"
So here he was on Hyde Street in a poor flat, wondering what his next big move would be as he cast himself in exhaustion onto the bed. He propped his feet up on a pillow, then crossed his hands over his chest. "Perhaps I'll think about it more on the morrow, when my head is clearer."
Then he was out like a light.
The first moment he was aware something was wrong, was when he heard the scream of a woman. It was utterly, utterly horrible. He felt as if someone were tearing a hole in his heart and eating the rest.
He shrugged off the stupor of sleep and reached for his pistol, which of course was no longer there, having left it at the disembarkment, not wanting anything more to do with violence of any nature.
Not deterred, he swept off the bed, slid back into his boots, then dashed out the front door, down the hallway as doors began to fling open, then down the three flights of stairs to the street. He flung open the front door and leaped the three steps to the pavement, then tried to orientate on where the sound had come from.
It was still pitch black outside. No moon and a thick soupy fog was eating at his feet and causing strange shadows to move about as if alive and ready to snap at him. He ignored him. After his years of avoiding the sorcerous kind of fogs, this kind was nothing to him. He shrugged his shirt tighter about him, then on a new scream dashed across the street towards an alley.
He raced into it and was struck down by someone dashing forth from it. For a brief moment he saw a fiendish face, with glowing red eyes, and then the man or creature ran from sight, vanishing into the mounting fog.
He regained his footage and moved into the alley as carefully as he could, fearing there might be more of the strange fellows, but instead he saw a lone woman lying on the stinking alley cobblestones. Her throat had been slit, but she was still alive. He didn't know what to do when he saw the horror of it, but did what he could, remembering the triage of the trenches.
He dropped beside her and pressed his hands to the wound. Her eyes fluttered open and she started to scream, but then saw the look in his eyes. She became calm. Her eyes began to flutter shut.
"Don't go to sleep; you won't waken." He warned her.
But her eyes continued to flutter, growing heavier. He knew she was about to die, and then he remembered the spool of thread and needle he always kept in his right shirt pocket. Something you always had to carry out on the battlefield, or else go naked when your clothing fell off. He kept his left hand depressed on the cut of her throat, then hurriedly pulled out the needle and thread. The needle was always threaded, so he pulled it free and did the only sane thing he could think of. He began darning her throat back together, starting with the vein he saw had been cut. It was a delicate operation, but his hand was steady. He was known to have the steadiest hand in the service with a rifle or gun, and they had been right.
His prowess on the field paid off at that moment and he managed to sew the vein shut, but without cramping it, and then began sewing the skin of the throat together. As he did so he felt people gathering about him.
A Constable came close and dropped to a knee beside him. He was a muscular young man with an earnest face. "I'm Constable Bloodstone; may I help in any way?"
"I'm not a doctor, she needs one at once!"
Constable Bloodstone rose to his feet and blew his whistle. Moments later the sound of a Constable Wagon sounded and its blue flaring lights cut through the fog of the alleyway and entered, forcing the other spectators to disperse to make room.
John helped Bloodstone lift the fallen woman up and set her into the back of the wagon, as people reached out and patted him on his back. "Well done. Good for you. Great job. She'd be dead without you. Bloody hell, nothing is safe anymore."
He smiled inwardly, but the plight of the young woman was more important to him. He jumped into the back of the wagon and Bloodstone joined him as it drove off.
They were both tense with concern as the wagon bounced and swerved.
It stopped at Hyde and Mary Hospital and they got out and as emergency attendants rushed forward with a gurney, they lifted the young woman and placed her on the gurney.
Later Bloodstone and John sat on a bench near the emergency room, as doctors raced in and out, attempting to save her life. One stopped and peered at them. An older gentleman. He came over and introduced himself. "Doctor Charles Owens." He looked at John. "You must be the warrior everyone is talking about."
"I'm not warrior." John said humbly. "Just a man looking for a job. John Watson."
The Doctor nodded. He offered his hand. "I saw the work you did on her throat, and more importantly closing off the artery. She would be more than likely dead now without that fine surgery."
"I am no surgeon."
The Doctor was silent a long time, and then smiled. "Would you like to be?"
John felt his heart racing. He felt the momentum of this moment and the power of the emotions sweeping through him. He had saved a life, not taken one. He had saved a human life. He had felt better during that time of work than all the years of blasting holes in men's chests and blowing them up.
He rose and took the Doctor's hand. "My name is John Watson. I would be proud to be a surgeon. But right now I would just like a job?"
The Doctor smiled, and then looked over at Constable Bloodstone. "I'm sure the Constable here could show you to our employment office?"
Constable Bloodstone rose. "It would be my honor, sir."
The Doctor gave an apologetic smile, then turned to leave, then looked back. "Doctor Watson, I rather fancy that name."
With that certain statement he fled back into the emergency room to help complete the saving of a young woman's life.
Constable Bloodstone looked at John. "She's the first one that's been saved from that monster of Hyde Street."
John's eyes narrowed with anger. "If I have my way, she shall not be the last."
Constable Bloodstone laughed. "Doctor, calm down, the war is over."
John sighed, and then rubbed his weary eyes. "Some wars never end. Now...about that employment office?"
"This way." Constable Bloodstone offered and he and John walked towards the future.
Peripheral. The Worlds of If. The Fractal Universe. By John Pirillo. "Watch out for those little fellows!"
The Worlds of If
The Fractal Universe
By John Pirillo
Most organizations, whether large or small, have some kind of orderliness to them; even it's only to the extent of having an answering service with a directory of the four or so names in the business...or even two! What makes an organization unique and awesome in many ways is neither the size, nor the orderliness of it, but its status in the larger scheme of things.
Well, to me, that is not being a judge, a cook, a dress maker, a policeman, or a soldier. It is being part of something so vast, so indefinable that to even try to put words to it lessens it and consequently lessens you.
I am, of course, referring to the Fractal Universe.
The Worlds of If as I prefer to call the conjunctive and ever expanding and colliding universes of this vast creation are so remarkably stand alone pure and pristine that they make our own Creation and universe seem paltry by comparison.
This is not to say that God's done a so-so job on our trillions of worlds, only that that Being, whether you want to call it a Him, a Her, or something else suitable like Creator, or Master of Light or whatever, just never hung up his celestial hat once he had finished defining our own motley collection of large orbs and smaller planets. He hadn't just slung an almost infinite amount of comets and asteroids to intersect our nearly infinite plane of beingness, but had gone on to further define it on a much smaller scale, of even vaster proportions.
Imagine if you will if you could somehow perceive all the atoms and electron, neutrons, protons, and infinitely smaller particles within the tip of your index finger. What would you really see? Would you see blood, bone, and muscle or would you find instead a thriving, ever expanding universe of orderly particles...sub universes that shook hands and agreed to take on a certain form...in this instance our index finger tip.
But let's take this supposition even further. What if light itself, or perhaps what we perceive as light, like fractals; what if they were also universes as well, and not just a handful, but an infinite, colliding, conjunctive and ever connected arc of ever contracting and expanding collections of matter so fine and so delicate that even our electronic microscopes would have a hard time grasping them?
Imagine if you will that infinite void above us, but then take your eyes inward to another infinite void that existed within our defined mathematics. Our sciences. Our imagination! There. Now I've said it. Imagine. Imagination. The next and possibly the only true universe of existence, which includes all things material and immaterial. Physical and imaginary.
I know. It's a lot to grasp. But what if?
"So sometimes one plus one equals more than one." I explained to the rapt faces in front of me.
Actually, they weren't...rapt. Jimmy was picking his nose. Evelyn was texting on her phone. Herman was kicking the back of Jane's chair. Ruben was making snarky remarks about me to his friend across the aisle and Jake was just dulling out, his eyes blank...probably just like his mind. The bulk of the kids were good kids, but some of them were born seriously lacking imagination and moral conscience. I don't say that lightly, because I'd had the pleasure...lightly spoken...of meeting their parents and the kids with the best parents often times had the best chance of succeeding. The kids with the not at home parents, divided families, or just plain ignorant families...well, they had an uphill battle.
I took it all in stride, striving to put all of them on equal footing and usually failing as most teachers do. Because...minus political correctness...the reality is that not all kids are created equal and not all kids will be a success...of any kind. Their genetic makeup, their imagination, their will to live and prosper just isn't there.
Now, you can go after me for saying that, but you'd be ignoring the Seventh Law of Thermodynamics...which, incidentally, I myself invented...that consciousness seeks its own level. I don't believe that people are born equal...unless you take into account their first years of helplessness and dependence upon the big guys...parents. No kids are born fully formed in their brains with all the ifs, maybes, yes and no's already organized and ready to fire upon birth. What they did with that mass of colliding impulses we call free will.
Unfortunately, free will is not all it's knocked out to be. Free will is impacted by genetics, where you are born, what choices you have as a child, etc...In other words...your karma.
I'm not going to go into the Eighth Law of Thermodynamics...which a few men like Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and Krishna did much better jobs of explaining. Let me just say that earth is a training planet. For me. For you. For everybody. And if you think you can ever sneak out of classes and ditch school, you're playing the fool to yourself. The whole freaking world is a school.
Now that I've had my rant, let's go on.
"Herman, what's a fractal?"
"Uhhh." He answered, his eyes on his neighbor, his hand under his table motioning for help. His neighbor Josh Tranks shook his head, his own mind just as blank at that moment.
I immediately saved his honor by scrawling in my own stunted chicken scratching handwriting the formula for a Mandelbrot fractal. "Anyone recognize this?"
Heidi jumped up. Not really. Yawned, and then raised her hand. "Mandel butt's equation."
"Mandelbrot, Heidi. Mandelbrot."
"Yeah. Whatever." She replied, back to yawning again.
I eyed her a moment thoughtfully, then turned to the other kids. High school sucks for most kids because it wakes them up early, rushes them from class to class, never gives them enough time to absorb anything before whisking them on to more information. In the fifteen years I had been teaching I'd seen the level of awareness in students slowly sink as they faced a morass of repetitive tests and antiquated dating of norms that even a caveman would snort at.
In other words school had become the equivalent of prison to most kids. Myself included. By the way, my name is Chesterton K. I'm a super nerd. I wear Star Wars tennies, extra long hair with blue or red sparkles sometimes, a Yoda t-shirt on Fridays and I rarely if ever sleep. Not because I don't want to, I just have a full life. Being a teacher was not something I was born to a calling to fulfill, rather a way for me to insinuate myself into the brains of kids and hopefully spark some imagination bombs in them so that in the future they would wake up on this great big lesson planet and make something better of it...and more importantly...themselves.
"Good answer, Heidi." I pointed out and they swiftly drew a very odd looking design on the board with a combination of dry markers of red, green, orange, blue and yellow. When I was done I had a reasonable fact simile of a Mandelbrot fractal.
Heidi had stopped yawning. "Can I do that?"
I nodded. Gave her the markers and stood back with bated breath.
She began drawing something that quickly formed into Mario from the Mario Brothers games. The whole class broke into laughter.
The bell rang.
She dumped the markers onto my desk, and then hurried out with the rest of the students. Mark, a somewhat slow student, but with a great big heart was the last to leave. He put an apple on my desk, gave me a shy smile and exited. It was then I noticed Patti standing there with crossed arms and a huge smile.
"Reminds me of the Willy Wonk and the Chocolate Factory movie where Mister Wonka is given the stolen candy and he treasures it."
"Yeah. Except in the movie he gets to call the shots. I don't. I'm just a miserable, underpaid, overworked, underappreciated teacher struggling to..."
She shut my mouth. With a kiss.
Patti's my girlfriend. My better half and the part that keeps my feet on the ground, at least when she's not kissing me, which at that point threatens to launch me into orbit.
I settled down and she shoved the door closed lest kids see us in each other's arms. It was the end of the day.
"So how did your day go?" She asked, as if she didn't already know.
"Mostly like the others. Period One. Period Two. Period Thre...." She cut off my list with another kiss, and then pulled back.
"I'm surprised you're not off to wonderland again."
I gave her a shrewd look. Ever since I had fractalized with her, she'd been bugging me to do it again, but I worried about her ability to handle it. She didn't have the genetic makeup I did. She needed someone to hold her hand, to keep her safe. I wasn't sure I could always do that. The Fractal Universe is huge and has many surprises.
Neutrally I responded. "Still working off my last trip there."
She grinned. "Liar, liar."
"I know, my blue hairs on fire."
"Speaking of which." She cut in.
I gave her a serious look. She had just given me a whopper of a speaking of which tone that brought all my alarms alert and ringing. "What do you mean?"
She brushed my hair.
The darn school board was after teachers again. As if we didn't have enough to do and think about, they kept finding ways to make our lives more miserable. Here...another stack of tests to give the kids that doesn't mean a damned thing. Here...another set of rules you must not break because it won't be politically correct to call a small person a small person because they might feel...well, small. I was sick of it. If I wasn't already independently wealthy, I'd quit my job and become a bum on a beach in Hawaii.
You might ask why Hawaii...or what rich has to do with it...and I'd probably ignore you. None of your business. But I'll answer this time. Because I care. I really do. Can I help it if God shot me into this world with twelve cylinders when most barely can use one or two of theirs? Sometimes I wondered how Einstein handled it during his life, and then I realized how. Humor and humble. Not political correctness and shutting up. Humor and humble. True genius does not need to stick its hand up and wave it all over the place. It just is and does. Is and does.
"When's the meeting?"
"That's tonight!"I almost screamed in alarm.
"I'm sorry. I knew what your response would be..."
"So you decided to cut my legs out from under me just before it happened?"
"Thanks!" I told her and gave her an extra big hug and kiss.
I let her go and she almost dropped.
She opened her eyes. "When you kiss me like that I am suddenly not in my body, but floating in some strange place...some..."
She shook her head. "Be there, okay?"
I sighed. "Okay. But I won't promise I won't buy all the schools and fire the board. I can do that you know."
She smiled sadly. "I know." Then she exited.
Sad. I'd made her sad. Sometimes my humor imploded in my face.
I really could buy all the schools and fire the school board. I think that sometimes they wanted me to do that so they wouldn't actually have to do something right by the students and teachers for once, instead of sucking up to the politicians and do-gooders who lived on the edge of political correctness. Hoping that I would give them relief. No way was that going to happen. They'd made their bed. Let them learn how to sleep in it.
I straightened up my desk, and then instead of exiting the room, I exited the world.
I sidestepped from the desk into a brooding flow of colored lights that swirled in infinite patterns of subdued grays and golds. It was awesome.
Of all the fractal worlds of the Fractal Universe I visit, the fractal flame ones are the best. The very best. I call them worlds and that would be a loose term. As in actuality each one of them is like a universe onto itself, but so much more complex than our own. Each of these visits reminded me to be humble and kept me humble. Because no matter how smart I thought and knew I was, there was someone who encompassed all of Reality who was way far smarter.
I smiled upwards. Which is silly, because that Being is everywhere and you could as easily smile at yourself in the mirror, or a plant, a dog, or a star and it would still be expressed and received in the same way.
I sat on the edge of a roaring fractal river. Its tiny repeating stars flowed and overflowed each other as they rushed along banks of green, lithe sprouts of fractal plants topped by blossoms of gold fractal flower petals. I never got tired of this place. It refreshed me and took a load off my mind when I had to face the powers that be.
"Happening again, huh?" The Tall Man said as he sat down beside me.
"You really got to stop horning in on my fantasies." I told him, ignoring him.
He laughed. "Fat chance."
We both sat there silently a long time watching the stars rush along the river bed made of Mandelbrot patterns and Julian extrusions. Finally, I sat up and eyed him.
He's tall. Like me, but a bit thicker in the body. I could probably outrun him, but he could probably throw me down in a wrestling match...if I played fair that is. "You know?"
"Call me Santa."
"Santa. You know?"
He sighed. Took a hard look at me. "You know he's behind it, don't you?"
"I thought he was taken into the deepest, darkest dungeon and chained to a wall."
The Tall man laughed. "Sounds a little too predictable, don't you think?"
I sighed. "So life sucks still."
"And then some. He's out."
"What!" I jumped to my feet.
He rose and put hands on my shoulders. "Don't go doing something stupid, Chesterton, we'll handle it."
"Like you're handling tonight's meeting?" I asked.
"No, like you're handling it. That's your territory. Not mine."
"So what good is it to work for you, if just any goon with delusions of grandeur can walk up and crucify me?"
He gave me a serious look. "Speaking of delusions of grandeur."
I sighed. "Okay. Okay. I get it. Lay low. Play fair and carry a big stick."
"A really big stick." He advised, and then side stepped from my reality back to his.
Then a thought occured to me. How did he just do that?
I thought I was the only one with the ability to fractalize and he'd just not only horned in on my fantasy world, but had the nerve to do it right in front of my face and then vanish again.
I stood before the School Board, shoving my pink speckled black hair out of my eyes. I didn't have to do that. I was just rubbing it in. On them!
The Director shuffled some paperwork in his hands, and then cleared his throats. He was an older man in his seventies and I suspected he was the one in the back pocket of the Senator. So I paid no attention to the four women on the right or the four men on the left. Maybe I should have. Maybe not.
"Mister K. That is your last name, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir. Unless someone changed it without informing me."
He looked up sharply. "Was that a yes then?"
I sighed inwardly. He was going to try and hard ball me. I could read it in his beady little eyes. "Yes."
"Very well." He shuffled the paperwork again, and then gently set it down.
I don't trust people who shuffle paperwork and then put it down gently. War signs. Alarm bells. Danger, Will Robinson!
He put his chin on the cup of his palms then eyed me further. "It has come to our attention that your manner of dress..."
I tugged at my Yoda shirt and shuffled my Star Wars tennies.
"...That your way of expressing yourself..."
I thought of expressing myself then, but I held it back. But the tide was rushing in. Look out if it comes all the way.
"...That your use of abstract sciences to justify your comments..."
I held both hands up. "Hold on there, partner!"
He gave me a shocked look. "What?"
I lowered my hands. "They're only abstract because no one understands them yet. And because I'm the one who founded them, discovered them, and have implemented them."
He cleared his throat and gave his committee a sweeping glance, looking for support. Their faces were set in stone. No one was giving anything away for free this night. Finally, the cleared his throat again, took a sip of a bottle of Perrier, then set it down.
"I'm not trying to insult you, Mister K, just clarify things."
"I think it's pretty clear what you're trying to do, sir." I replied.
"And what is that exactly?" He asked, a sly look on his lips.
"Ask Senator Murphy. I'm sure he can explain everything."
He jumped from his chair, his face red as a beet. "Are you saying I'm on the take?"
I leaned closer, my face stern as a killer ape. "You sir, are saying it. Not I!"
He looked around and no one would look him in the eyes. He sat back down.
"I resent your intimation."
"And you sir, I resent being the Director of a function to which you have no qualifications."
"I was elected..."
"No sir, you were appointed. No one in their right mind would have elected you."
He jumped up again.
I gave him a stone cold smile. "Really. You really want to go that route?"
He stood there, steaming in his shoes so much I could actually see smoke shimmering about him. I must be getting pretty good at pissing people off.
"I do and I have. This meeting is over."
He headed for the open doors to the room. It slammed shut. He jumped back, and then went forward again. He grabbed the knob and yanked. The door remained firm.
I looked to the others in the room. "No need for you to be bothered by our little discussion."
I sidestepped them into the next fractal world, then back outside the school building, where I had planted Patti so she could calm them down and get them on their cutesy little ways.
When they vanished the Director's face became filled with fear.
"As I was saying." I corrected him. "Do you really want to go that way?"
"I..." He stuttered.
I thumped his chest with my right forefinger. It made a hollow sound. I thumped it again just for the fun of it. Before he got the wrong idea, I stepped back. "I'm giving you two choices, sir. One is to leave this building, resign and never come back to this neck of the woods again."
He stood there, anger again beginning to color his face. "And the second choice?"
I sidestepped with him into one of the more chaotic fractal universes I had found. It was infested with spring spirals that would coil around one's body and then explode into hundreds more, making you itch like crazy. I had known in advance I would be facing it, and so had put on a fractal ointment to repel the friendly little buggers.
He screamed as they wrapped around him, exploding and itching like crazy. His eyes went as large as saucers and he turned to me and gripped my arms. "What have you done?"
"Et Tu, Brutus?" I reminded him.
He backed off.
I sidestepped him back into the meeting room.
He slumped back down into his chair and looked up at me. A couple buggers still clung to his right arm. They were poised to explode, watching for a signal from me. He knew it, even if he didn't understand it.
"Well?" I asked. "What now?"
Senator Murphy sat in the dark room he had rented for the special occasion of humiliating Chesterton K. A knock. "Enter."
The Director entered. He sat down opposite the Senator.
"Well, is it done?"
"Yes." The Director said, and then raised his right arm.
Senator Murphy screamed as the two buggers left on the Director's arm exploded and wrapped all around him. It was going to be a long, long night for him before he got back to normal again.
The Case of the Orient Express Murder. Part One: Riddle Me Dead. A Baker Street Universe Adventure by John Pirillo. "Life is precious in more ways than we might like."
The Case of the Orient Express Murder.
Part One: Riddle Me Dead.
A Baker Street Universe Adventure.
By John Pirillo.
It was hard times for Henry. And an even harder death as he stepped onto the evening train to the Swiss Alps. He was a down and out businessman looking for that magical sale that would lift not only his spirits, but his depleted bank account as well.
Henry was the son of a banker and his father was still alive and watching his every failure with great interest. "I always knew you would be a failure, son. Even when you were born it was a struggle to get your miserable little body out of your mother, thus causing her premature death."
Henry had bridled at the suggestion he had killed his own mother, but facts were facts, his birth had brought about her demise. He had never got to know the rose of her cheeks, the gentle of her touch, and the soft terms of endearment that children are nourished with and schooled in as they grow through the failures of child hood into the failures of adulthood.
Yes, he was a negative person. Little he had experienced in this life had taught him otherwise, but perhaps if he had glimpsed the shadowy form that was paralleling his steps to climb onto the train; he might have rethought some of his longings for death. The shadowy from leapt from car to car, not making a single sound as it alighted on the next, and even in the dark as sense of emptiness radiating from where the face should have been.
But none noticed it, for all were busy, and quite tired and only wanted to climb aboard, have the conductor take their tickets, then snuggle up happily into their first, second and third class berths. Henry was third class, which while not meaning he had to sleep in the passenger cars with the hard chairs, did mean he had to sleep in what the upper class called the "Cattle Cars." Those places where there was no heat, no light, and no fresh air, unless you stood by the exits.
Henry had lucked out for once and been ticketed to the adjoining car, which had two exits. One for passengers and one for the horses that were also passengered in the car. Yes, third class also included animals. That alone would not have bothered him, he found animals far better company than most Londoners, who looked down upon this small man and his snively ways of talking, his perpetual runny nose, and his chatter that sounded more like a mouse's complaint than a man's.
He settled his briefcase under the bench that was to be his bed for that night and set his candled sconce...his only means of seeing...into the upper alcove recessed in the wall above the bench. His car had eight benches. All on the same side and with stall walls rising to give some sense of separation and privacy. A latrine bucket was supplied on both ends of the car. The horses were the only companions that night and he was glad of it. He loved the smell of their sweat and their gentle natures. He had actually brought a pocket of sugar cubes just in case such an event might occur and it did, so he fed each of the four fellows in the car, gently stroking their noses as they nickered in pleasure from the treats he offered.
Finally, he sighed with fatigue, slipped into his cubicle and slung down the single blanket that was there. He didn't bother putting it over him, but rather under him. It alleviated the hardness of the bench somewhat. He was used to sleeping in uncomfortable beds, so this one made little impression on him, as the one he slept upon in his father's house, the one under the stairwell, was made of concrete and had tiny little spiders nestled above it, which he had to constantly fend off, which left him little true sleeping time, which might explain his running nose and saggy eyes with bloodshot eyes.
Yes, he had much to complain about as to how his life had turned out...a father who reviled him, but tolerated him for society's sake; a job that paid next to nothing, and was usually nothing with little hope of ever allowing him to rise above his station or lack thereof; and finally a thorough lack of female companionship. With no money he was a poor prospect for a proper relationship and the Midnight Angels required more remuneration than he received in a month's time for o ne night of pleasure, so he dared not even go there.
He sighed as his thoughts collapsed into a heap of self loathing, kicked off his third hand shoes with the nicks on their toes, then curled up in a fetal position on his bench. He was so exhausted that he fell into a dark abyss of sleep even as he closed his eyes. Therefore he didn't notice at first when the stallions in their cubicles began to make disturbed sounds. Something had entered the passenger car. It paused before the first cubicle, noted the passenger there, hovered over it a moment, then backed out and went to the next. It raised its dark head, sniffed the air, and then struck to the end of the car, just as the train struck something large on the rails, causing it to teeter dangerously for a moment.
But the shadowy form never lost its balance for a moment. It edged on until it found poor Henry's cubicle. It looked down at the pathetic creature curled up in to a ball and for a brief moment actually felt a tinge of sympathy. But only for the fraction of a second it took for it to descend into the cubicle and attend to its own needs.
Henry woke up only briefly. It was near his last breath. He saw nothing but darkness, but felt this fetid breath upon his cheeks. He heard but two words before he expired. "Dear One!"
Even the Lords and Ladies of first class were entranced by the grand entrance of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. The sky above the town of Lucerne was brightened by the shining golden ship, "Master of the World," a vessel built by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells that could fly through space and time, and even underwater if need be. But in this case it was merely the rough weather enroute to the Swiss Alps which usually plagued the area in the fall, with its bleary, whining winds that many Swiss found intolerable and shut out of their hearing as best they could, while others feared it as the banshee of death.
On this one occasion they could very well have been correct and rightly so. For one had died that night and was found the next morning. On the Orient Express, the most famous train of the recent ages, powered by its strong Tesla engines and capable of speeds up to a grand sixty miles per hour, even up hills and steep inclines, of which there were many enroute to Lucerne.
As Sherlock stepped into the exit from the hull of the Master of the World he sniffed the air and made a face. Rare for him. Watson came out to his right, noticed his companion's discomfort. "Allergies?"
Sherlock shook his head. "Death."
Watson's eyebrow arched in an imitation of Sherlock's demeanor. "This is rare for you to discover, Holmes? Really?"
Sherlock turned to Watson. "I have smelled this before. In my world."
For a brief moment both men were lost in memories as brief, flitting images of past partners surfaced, only to be doused in the warmth of their current friendships. Watson took a deep breath. "Well, I smell nothing but Swiss Chocolate, of which I intend to heartily avail myself of."
Sherlock gave his friend a broad smile; rare for him.
"Can you at least wait until we've seen the victim?"
Watson made a mock sigh of discontent. "Oh, how shall I ever live a normal life again?"
Several of the Lords and Ladies at the base of the now unfolding ramp, stepped back and pointed as Jules and Wells followed Sherlock and Wells down the ramp. "It's them. Them! Look there, will you!"
Jules and Wells cringed from the unwanted attention. Their celebrity while rightfully earned, still caused them no end of discontent when they coursed through known streets in efforts to spend quiet times with their families in public arenas, but forced for the most part to just visit each other because of the endless needs for attention of the public when they appeared. While the two men could fight monsters from Mars, and aliens from other times and spaces, facing a crowd of admirers was horrifying to them.
"Have no fear Jules. Watson and I will distract them while you two head off for the chocolate factory."
Watson gave his friend a scowl. "What, am I to be an object of conversation while they plunder the most famous chocolate factory in all of the Europes."
"Quite so, dear Watson. Quite so." Sherlock answered drily.
Inspector Bloodstone stood at the entrance to the passenger car, while Constable Evans and a trained squad of Forensics Marines scoured the area for any clues to the mysterious death about the train. Constable Evans shivered. Did this craziness ever end?
He turned his eyes to the car where the passenger had died, and shook his head. Was this part of the Dark Wars? Another pawn on the chess board? Or something worse? He didn't know. He just hoped that for once a reasonable solution could be discovered, even though he feared it would not.
Jules and Wells exited the passenger car and stepped to Constable Evans.
"Anything?" Constable Evans asked, fearing their answer.
Jules looked paler than usual and Wells seemed, for once, even more inward than usual. Both men seemed reluctant to discuss the case. Finally, Jules spoke up.
"Constable Evans, this is clearly the work of some dark force."
Wells nodded, also speaking up finally. "This doesn't mean that the Dark Wars have anything to do with it."
Constable Evans frowned in disbelief.
Jules put a warm hand on his shoulder. "Mon Ami, circumstances dictate that we hope and pray for the best, even when it seems more dark and dreary than we hope."
Constable Evans nodded.
Almost like a cork popping from a champagne bottle, Sherlock Holmes shot forth from the passenger car and ran to the site where a Forensics Marine had planted a red flag. Watson chugged along behind him, huffing and puffing.
"I really got to stop eating...so...many scones." He panted.
They reached the site and Watson knelt before the item found, opening his black bag for the closer examination that Sherlock was sure to want. He handed over a vial and tweezers.
Sherlock dropped to a knee and plucked a hair from what was a desiccated face, parchment dry and wrinkled like that of an Egyptian Mummy. He placed it in the vial, stoppered it, and then reached his hand out. Watson took it, and planted another in his palm.
Sherlock next scraped the chin of the face, and ushered that paper like substance into the second vial. Watson took it and then handed a third.
Sherlock's eyes widened as he noted two puncture marks on the forehead, right over the third eye. "Most interesting, Watson."
"Jolly well not." Watson countered.
Sherlock gave a brief scowl of a grin, and then proceeded to fill the third vial with saliva from the mouth, which was thick like pus and an odd black and green color. Finished, he rose to his feet, just as Inspector Bloodstone came into speaking distance.
"Watson, I'd like you to make sure this finds its way back to London. Would you mind helping the Forensics Marines safely store it for us?"
Watson nodded and hurriedly began giving instructions to the Marine standing next to him. The man's eyes widened a bit, but he nodded and ran off to begin gathering the other Marines.
"I suppose this is just another mystery as inside." Inspector Bloodstone commented sarcastically.
"All life is a mystery, Inspector. But whether it opens its petals of knowledge to us as a proper flower of education should...that is the greater mystery." Sherlock stated, and then headed for the Master of the World.
Jules and Wells, who had overheard and joined the Inspector along with his son, Constable Evans looked warily at the remains.
Jules and Wells exchanged veiled glances, and then quickly looked away.
Not lost on Constable Evans who filed the event for further investigation.
"Uh, Inspector." Constable Evans corrected himself upon the scowl from his father. "It would appear that this is not the same person as was found inside the passenger car."
"Brilliant deduction. And what made you decide that?" Fumed his father, instantly regretting his sarcasm at the hurt look in his son's eyes. "I mean, please explain."
Constable Evans shrugged and walked away.
"Children!" The Inspector sighed, and then followed after his son, hoping to catch him and remedy his stupid remarks before it went too much further and created a rift between them. Of late they had both been getting on each other's nerves, neither one having totally adjusted to their new fatherhood and son status.
Jules looked at Wells. "It has begun again."
"I'm afraid so, Jules. But I suspect this is only the opening volley. We must hurry back to the ship to prepare to take our friends to London and then..."
"And then what?"
"That remains to be seen." Wells said mysteriously.
The two hurried to the ship.
Watson huffed and puffed and caught up to them as they reached the boarding ramp. "We need to get to London at once!"
Jules turned back and saw the Forensics Marines marching swiftly to the ship with a heavy crate between them.
"Both?" Jules inquired.
Jules shivered, then crossed himself and entered the ship.
Wells waited until the Marines arrived, then gestured them to enter the ship, which they did, bearing the crate as carefully as if it were a bomb. For it was, in some sense, a bomb. A time bomb.
Professor Langdon ran his forensics test for the fiftieth time on the saliva that Holmes had given him. Both Sherlock and Watson stood at his windows overlooking the Thames, their thoughts very remote from what was going on behind them. He sighed. Those two have been through so much. But then again, who hasn't? He thought to himself with a smile, and then checked the results of his test. Finally, he could not bear to do another and cleared his throat.
Watson and Sherlock hurried over as he showed them a rough sketch he had made showing the results. He tapped a picture of a simple solar system. "This is matter as we know it. It is constructed basically on carbon. As you know all life forms on our earth are carbon based."
"Yes. Yes." Watson urged impatiently.
"But this one..." He pointed to two overlapping solar systems. "This one ignores all laws of nature as we know it."
Sherlock looked into Professor Langdon's face. "You know it?"
"Yes, as does Tesla and Einstein. Before you came over I made sure to send them copies of the work and my theory."
"On what?" Watson demanded, totally unconscious about what they were alluding to.
"That our face that was found was not of our earth." Sherlock stated simply.
"You mean we are being invaded?"
"It would appear so, Watson."
Watson shook his head and sat down on a tall work bench and shook his head again. "My brain is aching from all the monsters, demons, Dark Druids and now...aliens?"
"Perhaps not so alien after all." Sherlock suggested.
Constable Evans entered from Professor Langdon's office. He looked worn out and beat down, but still had a bright smile on his face as usual. "Jules and Wells are onto something as well."
Sherlock gave him a surprised look.
Constable Evans nodded. "I saw the way they looked at each other once they'd seen the artifact. It was not surprise I saw on their faces, but recognition."
Sherlock's face tightened in a short grimace, and then he nodded. He took out his pipe, then his tobacco pouch and tamped fresh tobacco into his pipe. He lit it from a Bunsen burner in the Professor's lab, and then took a draft. He blew out some smoke and then headed for the exit.
"Where are you going, Holmes?" Watson demanded.
"To do that which I do best."
"And what is that?"
"Why to think, my dear Watson, to think."
He turned around briefly and waved his pipe at Professor Langdon and Watson. "I'm afraid that Jules and Wells are not the only ones who have seen this before. Now I must ask why it has reached this world from mine."
"The Missing Death." Sherlock replied mysteriously.
And they started to exit again, and then turned back. "As to things getting worse, Watson, I'm afraid it is far worse than you could ever imagine."
"I can imagine a lot these days." Watson grumbled.
Sherlock smiled. "And that's why I love you so much, my dear friend. Now come, Watson, we have much to plan and I'm sure Mrs. Hudson has a warm plate of scones at the ready as well."
Watson lit up. "Right."
He turned to Constable Evans and the Professor. "Duty calls."
They both laughed as Watson and Holmes departed.
Constable Evans looked at the Professor, whose eyes were black from loss of sleep. "Will we be able to stop this...this new threat?"
"I don't know Constable Evans, but with God's help and a lot of clever moves and anticipation. Maybe, just maybe we will have a tiny chance of surviving."
Constable Evans went to the windows that overlooked the Thames as the Professor began putting equipment away and cleaning it. What was their world coming to when death and destruction were a daily meal? And what was the Missing Death?
Audio Book. The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt. Chapter 31: Larry and the Frog Men. Golden Master of Fantasy!
Audio Book. The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt. Chapter 22: The Casting of the Shadow. Fantasy at its best!
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