(New) They Come Baring Fangs, A Sherlock Holmes Story By John Pirilloartwork, stories, videos at www.johnpirillo.com
They Come Baring Fangs
A Sherlock Holmes Story
By John Pirillo
His heart was heavy. So many dead. So many lost forever to their loved ones, their wives, their children, their friends and parents. All because he had made one simple mistake. He had believed what he was doing was right.
He stared at the smoking valley of ruin, his stovepipe hat in his hands, cradled in a silent prayer for all the fallen.
He didn't hear the word. He didn't feel like he owned that title any more. No more than he owned the right to speak on behalf of his fallen nation. The Americas were not to be. The British had won. Soon they would be arriving by the thousands, their fangs hungry for the victims they knew would now be easy prey because of his mistake.
Again, he ignored the voice. He had so much to think about, to consider, to weigh in his heart. The vast fields of green and gold, the stately mansion where his own family had lived in harmony with the world. Martha. He choked on the word, without even speaking it. He reached a grizzled, dirty thumb up to wipe the tears forming in his eyes.
"Mister President, they're coming."
He finally turned to acknowledge Julius Caesar. He was dressed in the Royal Gold of the Americas, his thin crop of gray hair, grizzled and dirty, like he was sure his own was now. He weighed the wrinkles and lines on that man's face against his own. They were both battle worn, world weary and ready to depart to a land beyond this one. Beyond this world.
"I am not ready."
"No one ever is." Julius said, pointing to the floating chariot behind him.
He stepped onto it, taking hold of the navigation stick, and nodded to the chair beside him. "We must go now or the British will find us and whatever hope was left for the Americas will be completely gone."
"It is completely gone." He waved at the still smoking, and grisly field of death where the vampire Brits were sucking out whatever blood they could find in still beating hearts among the fallen.
"We can't even save the few left."
"No. But we can fight another day and perhaps..."
Julius couldn't finish. His voice choked up. He had lost his son, Maximus Pride, in the battle as well as the President's family.
He looked across at President Lincoln. "It's not your fault that they wouldn't let their victims become free and whole."
President Lincoln shook his long craggy face in sorrow. "Now they shall be doomed to ravage the world like their masters, free of will, free of heart and courage to do what is right."
"How could you have expected the vampires to act any differently, sir? It's not in their nature!"
President Lincoln clenched his fists. "No! But it's in mine!"
He revealed his vampire teeth and made a snarling sound.
Then he withdrew them back into his mouth and humbly climbed onto the floating chariot. "Which world now, my dear Julius? We must stop them on some world before they overthrow this entire universe!"
Julius didn't answer. There wasn't the time. A horde of the British stormed their hill, closing in hungrily from all sides, sweeping up and over the top of the hill, like a mountain of hungry ants, eager to snag what nourishment they could.
President Lincoln steeled himself as he saw his wife, Martha, and his sons John and George rush him with outstretched arms, their teeth bared and ready for blood. He couldn't bear to look, his heart was broken. He had not drunk a drop of human blood for...how long now?
That thought rang through his conscious mind as the chariot threw up a bubble of gold streaming energies and then whipped into String Space, vanishing from this vanquished world of vampires and slaves.
The Jungle Lord searched the distant horizon for signs of anything amiss. This was probably the thousandth time now in a handful of weeks he had come back to Fairie, searching the horizon, wondering when the battle would begin.
Sherlock and Watson had accompanied him this time and were below in the camp, putting together the supplies they would need for their climb. Professor Challenger was already half way there, leaving tracking marks for them to follow. Conan and Tesla had joined him and were acting as bearers for the equipment they would need.
He saw nothing. His eyes were as sharp as a dragon. But not sharp enough to see the future. No one had those eyes, perhaps except for Merlin, and he rarely came forth from the Crystal Caves these days to advise or give out his magic.
Lord Graystone, or the Jungle Lord, as he was named by those of this world, this realm, was a highly educated man, even if mostly self taught. Raised by dragons, his body was like steel. But his mind was as razor sharp as well with knowledge.
He dove from his perch, caught a vine, then flipped ever downward, level by level, until he released the last vine and dropped lightly to his naked feet before Watson, who had his back to him. Watson turned around and saw him, and let out a gasp of fright, then quickly recovered.
"I'm so sorry. I thought..."
Lord Graystone gave Watson a pat on his shoulder. "And rightly so. There is an abundance of danger in these woods. This forest is as old as time itself. At least I've been told it's so."
Sherlock exited the tent they had constructed of fallen wood and leaves, brushing off some ants that had gotten onto his jungle fatigues. He adjusted his pith helmet, and gazed upwards. "Not much time left before the sun sets."
"We'll catch up." Lord Graystone said affirmatively. Worse case. He would swing them on his shoulders. He had done so before, much to his friend's horror.
Sherlock had been the worst, he was not used to losing control and he hated it when someone else had more of it.
He smirked at that. He was no better. All men were the same when the clothing was stripped from their bodies and souls he mused, and then slung his bow over his shoulder, and his arrows. He nodded towards an invisible path. "That way."
"How can you know?" Watson began.
Lord Graystone gave him a fierce look.
"Oh right. Sorry, old man, your domain. Right on. Cheerio, let's go."
Watson sucked in his chest, shouldered his Enfield rifle, and backpack and took off after Lord Graystone, who strode into the jungle depths in such a light manner, that not even a blade of grass was disturbed.
Sherlock followed, a backpack slung over his shoulders, and a service revolver at his hip, as well as a canteen and knife. He felt uncomfortable with the knife and pistol more than the backpack. He was not one to like depending on weapons to solve his problems, but he was also logical enough to realize when he might need such things.
They forced their way for what seemed like hours and eventually, after many slight detours around gigantic trees, a watering dinosaur of immense proportions that watched them like a hawk as they carefully strode past it, and then over a stream filled with fish that popped up with jagged teeth and took nips at them, they finally stopped to rest.
Watson unslung his backpack and sat with his back against a tree to catch his breath. He waved his pith helmet in his face, striving to cool off the sweat pouring down from his head into his eyes.
"Bloody hot place, you know."
"It will get cooler soon. Night falls."
Lord Graystone pointed to the first of two suns in the sky whose round orb barely touched the horizon and a second that was scarcely above that one to its right.
"Then what?" Sherlock asked.
"Then we travel in the trees. It will not be safe down here any longer."
Watson and Sherlock both snapped to attention at those words.
Lord Graystone laughed. "Just kidding. Professor!"
A huge, hulk of a man with a flaming red beard and hair came from ahead, swiping at gnats harassing him. "There you are. What took you so long?"
"Where are the others?" Sherlock demanded.
"Oh them! They found something."
Sherlock frowned. "It's not a time to be exploring."
"It never is, my dear fellow. But sometimes we must make time for the bigger reasons." Challenger said mysteriously.
Everyone followed him into the forest and he led them in a circuitous path that ended up in a cave. A flickering light came from within.
They went inside, single file, until the cave widened out.
Conan and Tesla were clearing away debris from an oddly shaped vehicle that seemed to be embedded in the walls of the cave. Part glowed a very strange golden color. As they continued to brush at the debris, the shapes of two men came into view. Both were perfectly preserved, as if some kind of force field enveloped them.
"What is it, Watson?" Sherlock demanded.
"I know that man." He pointed to the taller one.
"Who is he?"
"Do you not recognize him, Holmes? He is the one we met in the new world on that strange expedition with Challenger."
"Watson, don't talk like I'm not here with you." Challenger blurted out angrily.
"Sorry. But it was such a long time ago."
Sherlock stepped closer. Tesla raised one of his tesla lights and the face came into clear focus. "President Lincoln!"
"But the other man with him. He is dressed like someone else we should know." Conan exclaimed. "I would recognize that face any day. He conquered much of the known world during his time."
"Julius Caesar." Professor Challenger gasped barely above a whisper.
Tesla cocked his head, a question clearly lighting his brows. "I wonder..."
He touched a glowing panel to the right of Julius Caesar's left hand.
The two men who had been frozen in time blinked their eyes, and then gazed at them.
"Who are you?" Professor Challenger demanded.
"We are your worst nightmare." President Lincoln said, baring his teeth.
All of the men fell back, reaching for weapons, but President Lincoln withdrew his teeth and he and Julius stepped forth from the ruined vehicle. "Looks like this is our last stop then."
Julius nodded. "I don't think I can fix it this time."
Tesla, his curiosity burning like a wildfire, stepped closer, oblivious to his danger. "What is this machine?"
President Lincoln smiled, showing no teeth. We call it a tessarack. It is able to divine time and space and place us where we want."
"But this time, it did not." Julius cursed with a grimace.
"But enough of this small talk." President Lincoln said, stepping closer to the men.
They brought their weapons up again.
President Lincoln laughed and Julius laughed. "Fools." President Lincoln warned. "We are not here to eat you. We are here to warn you."
"Eat us?" Watson asked with a gulp.
"Of what?" Lord Graystone demanded, his eyes narrowing. His fierce face seemed to recognize something that the others did not. To him those who stood before him were barely visible, like images cast by a fire. To the others they seemed quite real though.
"They are coming."
"Who is coming?"
"The death of your world." President Lincoln warned. "And all that you love."
Tesla gasped. "The Dark War!"
"Yes." Julius said, shaking his head sadly. "The Dark War."
All men in that room trembled with fear, for the moment of battle they had all feared was closer than they had thought. Their expedition had been for naught. Here was proof of it. The Dark War was sweeping towards them. A wave of evil so dark that even the mighty Merlin might tremble were he to sense it, if he didn't already.
President Lincoln reached out a hand. "I wish to help you. But we must hurry. There is so little time. So very, very little."
Sherlock took the hand. "Sir, you would like the man who is you in our world."
"I have loved him in every world I have met him and seen him die!"
Those last words left a sense of desolation and fear in the hearts of these brave men, but Lord Graystone was having none of it.
He withdrew his knife and stabbed it at the air. "We may die. But we will not die cowards. Or alone!"
He looked to the others.
They all nodded.
It was a challenge they were all willing to meet and die for if necessary. It was their nature. It was their destiny.
"Come." Lord Graystone said, as he headed for the exit from the cave. "We have much to discuss and plan on the way to London."
Lincoln balked. "No, we cannot go there. That is their center of power."
He and Julius held back.
Sherlock gave them a reassuring look. "But it is also ours. Come. Let us meet this challenge with the good people who shall be helping us in our hour of need."
And so they all left that cavern of darkness and despair and headed back into the jungle, back towards civilization and an uncertain destiny. But does any man know for sure their destiny?