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Dead in the Water

By Emily Claus

Humor / Mystery

Chapter 1

A cruise ship called the Emerald Princess had departed from England just six hours earlier. It was embarking on a two-week-long voyage with a couple pit stops in Spain and France, and was also the honeymoon choice for newlyweds John and Mary Watson. The weather was perfect - warm and sunny with the slightest breeze - and the happy couple was already enjoying every minute of their trip, currently occupying a pair of pool chairs set out around the rear of the ship.

"Suppose we'll see any dolphins?" Mary was saying, sunglasses pushed to the top of her head. She was sitting cross-legged over a beach towel and looking through a digital camera.

John was lying down with his legs crossed and flipping through a celebrity gossip magazine. "I think there's a good chance," he answered. The man was wearing a pair of red swim trunks to match his wife's bikini.

Mary glanced up at John and frowned. "Hey, I hope you remembered to put on sunscreen over there."

"'Course I did."


"Uh… when we first came out here? Maybe an hour ago?"

"Then it's about time you reapplied," the woman decided. She then exchanged the camera for a bottle of sunscreen in her purse and scooted to the edge of her chair. "Alright, flip over. I can't be seen strutting about with a lobster for a husband."

John did as he was told without complaint. Once flopped onto his stomach Mary began rubbing the white substance into his back. Suddenly there was the sound of a large brass bell being rung and the couple both lifted their heads. "Suppose that means dinner?" John asked.

"I guess. A tad earlier than I would've expected, though. C'mon, John; let's get dressed and go check out the buffet!"


"Are you kidding me? You pay all that money to book the spot and then they go and assign your dinner seats?" John scoffed, inspecting the fancy dining table's name cards distastefully. "At least they had the decency to stick us facing the window."

"Oh, shush. I'm sure the food is absolutely delightful." Mary planted a kiss on John's cheek and then gasped with delight. "Oh, and look! They've got a live orchestra!" John started to turn his head to see and Mary's face fell. "Um. On second thought, actually, maybe it's best that you didn't… look…"

But John had already caught sight of what she was referring to. There he was, an add-in sitting in the middle of a string quartet at the opposite end of the dining hall. Playing a concerto along with the professional musicians without a care in the world. As if he had absolutely no idea.

"I'm going to kill that man, I swear I will," John practically growled. Fists clenched, he began stomping towards said offender, Mary shuffling after him with a worried countenance.

The last chord in the arrangement was released and those seated nearest to the entertainment erupted into applause. Sherlock put down his violin, spotted his friends, and then smiled. "John. Mary. What a lovely coincidence."

"Wh-no, no, it is most definitely not a coincidence! What the bloody hell are you doing here, Sherlock!"

Sherlock's face fell again. "Rude. I could ask you the same thing, you know. I'm simply on vacation. Taking some time out of the office. Enjoying the fresh air. How was I supposed to know I'd run into you two, much less that you wouldn't want me here?"

"No no no no no, now don't you dare try and pull that act with me, mister," John fumed. "I am here on my honeymoon-"

"Our," Mary corrected.

"-Mary and I are here on our honeymoon, which I know that you know, because you helped me purchase the tickets an entire week ago!"

"Of course. You're right. I'm terribly sorry," Sherlock apologized. "You should probably inform the others, as well, because I don't believe that they received the memo."

John squinted. "What do you mean?"

"Everyone else onboard, of course. You're right. It's your Sex Holiday - sorry, honeymoon. How dare they intervene."

John pinched at the bridge of his nose in annoyance. "Sherlock. For the love of… That's not what I… You know exactly what I mean, so can you please, just for once, once in your entire lifetime at least try to act your age?" There was a very long and rather uncomfortable silence following John's remark.

"John," Mary said softly. She placed a loving hand on the man's upper arm.

Finally John met Sherlock's eyes, but the detective immediately looked away and began packing back up his instrument. The hired violinist returned as he was still in the midst of fumbling around with its case and cast him a sort of funny look, to which Sherlock gave a curt nod and started for the door.

"Now - now hold on," John tried, attempting to cut the consulting detective off. "What is this now? The 'silent treatment'?"

"You made it perfectly clear that I'm not welcome here," Sherlock began flatly, "and I have decided to respect your wishes. Consider it a belated wedding gift, if you will. We can't possibly be more than, what, seven hours out? Therefore if I am to jump off the ship almost immediately, I should have a fair shot at making it back to shore before midnight by means of a stolen lifeboat. Without one I'm afraid it might take quite a bit longer, especially considering my limbs are bound to give out after two, three hours of freestyle swimming. Nonetheless still very possible, albeit a rather daunting challenge."

Mary glanced out at the sea surrounding them as if inspecting it. "I'd reconsider if I were you," she concluded. "Looks a tad cold."

"Oh, I'm sure. Absolutely freezing. I'd estimate about fifteen celsius this time of year. Perhaps I ought to first remove my shoes, eliminate some of the drag? Could shave off a couple minutes at best… Actually, I might as well take unnecessary layers out of the equation as well. Won't help with the temperature, I'm afraid, but I'll nearly double my odds of making it all the way back to land without them." Sherlock started to remove his scarf and handed it to Mary. "You'll be a dear and hold onto these for me, won't you?"

"Fine!" John exclaimed, throwing his arms out to his sides in exasperation. "You can crash mine and Mary's honeymoon! I don't give a rat's arse! You have my bloody permission, alright? Is that what you wanted to hear?"

Sherlock smirked, made a pinch at John's nose (much to his annoyance), wiggled it around some and then patted the side of his face lightly. "Knew you'd come around," he beamed.

"Jerk," John spat back, pushing his cocky friend's hand away.

"Oh! Sunset!" Mary suddenly let out. The two boys whipped their heads around at her. Shoving the accessory back into Sherlock's hands, she pushed through them both. "Quick, John! Grab the camera! I want to get the shot!" John knew exactly what his wife was referring to and hurried after her, Sherlock out of the loop but keeping up nonetheless.

The woman didn't stop running until she had reached the Emerald Princess' bow, at which point she positioned herself at its furthermost point. Sunset had actually begun some time earlier, but only now did the sky begin turning a brilliant pink and orange. John handed their digital camera off to Sherlock and swooped in behind Mary. Mary extended her arms out to the side as if they were wings and John wrapped around the girl's waist, looking forward from over her shoulder. Sherlock was still not entirely sure what was going on and why it mattered so much, but he took one for the team and snapped a couple pictures until the newlyweds dropped the pose and came bounding over to see the result.

"Did you get it?" Mary asked excitedly despite already starting to look herself.

"Yes, I believe so. Whatever 'it' is."

John frowned at Sherlock. "What? The picture?" Sherlock didn't answer, and John looked at him with even more judgement than before. "C'mon, tell me you've at least heard of Titanic."

Sherlock blinked. "Of course I have. RMS Titanic; British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. Over fifteen hundred casualties. But what does that have to do with anything?"

"The movie, Sherlock," John sighed. "I was, of course, referring to the movie Titanic." There was a brief pause before he went on: "You know, DiCaprio and Winslet? That Celine Dion song? No? Not ringing any bells?" The man seemed almost hurt by Sherlock's lack of recognition to this. He looked to his wife helplessly. "Mary. Sherlock hasn't seen Titanic.

"And he won't see it until all three of us have made it safely back home, you hear? I won't be having any jinxes on this cruise. Not on my honeymoon." Mary took John's hand in her own and showed him the camera. "What do you think? Cover photo?"


"Oh come on, Sherlock," John sighed. "Why do you have on so many layers? Aren't you getting a bit warm?"

It was the second day of their journey. Sherlock was perched on the edge of the pool, studying other vacationers with a fascination that led mothers to keep their children close. He was wearing his usual suit, heavy coat, and scarf, and John of course was in nothing but a pair of swimming trunks.

"Mm, no, I'm good," Sherlock said. John waded over, slicked back his wet hair, and rested his elbows on the floor near Sherlock's feet. The detective's face turned a bit pink.

"Liar," John scolded. "I can see you sweating."

Sherlock huffed and popped up the collar of his jacket, letting it shield him from the sun and unwanted gazes. "Don't you have approximately fifty thousand gallons of chlorine and baby-piss to frolick in?"

John scoffed and flung a bit of water at him. "You're the one who invited yourself onto this cruise, so you might as well have some fun while you're here."

"A giant lukewarm communal bath is fun?" Sherlock asked.

"Do you legitimately not understand the appeal of a pool, or are you mocking me?"

"Both," Sherlock said. "We're in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by water. On a boat, meant to keep us out of the water. Which has a trench full of water in the center of the deck. All so these idiots can sit in four feet of the stuff and say they swam in the ocean without ever actually being in the ocean. Why go through all the trouble? Why not just swim in the damn ocean?"

"I dunno, sharks?" John said.

"Sharks don't ever actually attack people, John," Sherlock said. "You're much more likely to be harmed by an innocent little jellyfish whose squishy head you heartlessly kick in."

"Which can only be considered self-defence, of course," Mary agreed as she approached in her red bikini. She dropped a kiss on Sherlock's forehead and then dove into the pool. The small tidal wave she made splashed John right in the face. She came up and shook her head like a dog, getting her husband in the eyes one more time for good measure. "Sorry, why are we talking about jellyfish again?"

John squinted at her through the pain of pool chemicals in his eyes. "They're apparently very misunderstood creatures."

Suddenly a scream rang out from somewhere near the ship's edge and everyone on the deck lifted their heads towards the noise. A small crowd started to form around the railing, all of them staring down at the water. Sherlock jumped up and made a beeline for the mob, leaving John and Mary still trying to flop their way out of the pool. They each grabbed their beach towels as shields against the wind and by the time they made it to where all the commotion was, the crowd was too large, everyone elbowing and shoving to get a look over the railing.

"How did she fall in?" some of the passengers called out to no one in particular.

"Where are the lifeguards?"

"Isn't someone going to help her!"

"Do you think she jumped?!"

Without saying anything John passed his towel off to Mary and ducked into the mob. He squeezed his way to the railing and came up again for air right beside Sherlock. John peered over the side of the Emerald Princess and saw what was attracting so much attention-a woman's body bobbing face down in the waves.

"Oh good, there you are," Sherlock muttered. Much to John's surprise, the detective began undressing himself. A scarf, coat, and pair of shoes were shoved into John's arms in a heap. "Hang onto these, will you?"

John blinked at him stupidly. "Wh-what are you doing?" he stammered, already fearing he knew the answer.

"Looks like I'm going for a swim after all."

"Sherlock! This is insane!"

But without enough time (or free hands) to stop him, John watched helplessly as Sherlock climbed on top of the ship's railing and jumped into the ocean below, feet first and hands at his sides. John called out his friend's name again, but the word was masked by shouts and gasps from the peanut gallery. After chucking Sherlock's articles of clothing as far away from the edge of the ship as he could, John began frantically looking for a way to haul Sherlock back up. Finding the gawking passengers less than useful, John whirled around only to bump into Mary, who was carrying a long coil of rope. "Looking for this?" she asked, and smiled weakly.

John thanked her with a kiss and fought his way back to the front of the crowd. He tied a huge knot on one end of the rope and threw it overboard to Sherlock. "Grab the rope!" he yelled. "We'll hoist you up!"

"Yes, I gathered that was the plan," Sherlock yelled back. He slung the unmoving woman over his shoulder and clung to the rope, using the knot John tied as a foothold. He sent John a thumbs up, and the doctor and his wife pulled. Sherlock barely even budged.

"Oh, fuck me," Mary sighed.

John turned to glare at the other passengers standing on the sidelines staring at him. "Well, are you going to help us or not?" the doctor barked, using his soldier voice.

Thankfully a handful of the more lively onlookers gathered around and took hold of the rope. Under John's direction, they all heaved together, and within a few minutes Sherlock was able to climb back over the safety rail and lie the woman on the deck. John immediately dropped to his knees and began attempting to resuscitate the woman as everyone else hovered around him with anxious looks.

"John," Sherlock said. He tried in vain to unstick his shirt from his chest and smooth his soaked hair back out of the way of his eyes. Mary silently draped a towel around his shoulders and began drying him off as much as she could. "John," Sherlock tried again, louder. John ignored him and pressed his mouth to the woman's, forcing air into her lungs. "For God's sake, John, will you stop molesting the body?" Sherlock grabbed John by the arm and yanked him backwards. "She's dead. She was gone before she even hit the water."

John looked almost determined to not believe Sherlock at first, but upon further analysis it became apparent that this was the case. John leaned away from the body now. He hesitated before meeting Sherlock's eyes. "Then that would mean that the killer…"

"Is still on board," Mary finished.

Sherlock nodded grimly.

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