After only a couple of minutes a black car, followed by a lorry and a van turned into the street and suddenly it was quite crowded. Agents in black told the spectators to leave and circled the bodies of the two persons lying on the ground. From the other side of the road another lorry and a recovery vehicle entered the street and more people in black gathered, moving about, working like insects – a complete muddle at first glance, but very effective at the second one. While all traces of the destroyed cars disappeared, two medical teams took care of the injured men.
Suddenly, an exclamation of surprise could be heard. The emergency doctor who had checked Sherlock's vitals out of routine hadn't expected what he found – a flat but steady pulse. The obvious bullet hole in his head had led them to believe that their boss's brother could only be dead.
"Good Lord! He's alive! HE'S ALIVE! Quick! He needs oxygen!"
An oxygen mask was placed on his face and Sherlock Holmes was extremely carefully lifted onto a stretcher, his head fixated with a surgical collar to avoid any movement of the bullet, which could immediately lead to the patient's death. Nobody knew where the bullet was. It was clear, though, that it hadn't left Sherlock's skull as there was no visible exit wound. It was a miracle that the young man was alive, but it had yet to be found out to what extent that was true, that is which parts of his brain had been damaged.
The stretcher was lifted into the lorry that was outfitted with no less medical equipment than an intensive care unit would provide.
Dr Watson was gingerly lifted onto a vacuum mattress and then onto a stretcher by the second medical team. After such a collision with a car it was likely that not only he was suffering from the obvious broken leg but maybe also from vertebra injuries. Every movement was risky. His vital signs weren't good and the fight for his life would be tough and they had to be fast as internal bleeding was most probable. Luckily, the lorry offered all medical technology that all the necessary examination in advance of a surgery could already be done on the journey to the clinic and the patient could immediately be operated upon arrival at the theatre.
A moment before the lorry was about to leave, another black limousine entered the road and stopped directly next to the large vehicle. A man quickly climbed from it and ran to the back door of the HGV. There was a perceptible tension among the agents after their boss had arrived.
When the emergency call had reached Mycroft, he had felt something icy settle in his guts. He had done everything in advance that had been in his power to protect his little brother – had he really failed this time? After he had received John's text about the body and the veiled threat against his brother, he had taken all possible precautions that he was capable of. The only additional thing he could have done would have been to take him in protective custody and that would have been unimaginable for a reason. John had sent him a text that Sherlock didn't want him to ask for protection, and if that was the case nothing in the world but violence could make him accept help.
He had been taken to the place of disaster as fast as possible – he wanted to be at his brother's side. Of course, there was also John Watson. Although there was always a little tension when they were dealing with each other, he had to admit to himself that he had taken him to his heart a little bit. Thus, he was worrying about two people's lives now.
Inside the lorry, the medical teams were each working hand in hand, intubating the two men, starting the ventilation, placing the IVs and administering numerous fluids and drugs before putting the portable examination gadgets in position in order to find out about the patients' injuries.
On Sherlock's side, everyone was looking at the x-ray screen as if spellbound. The skull's inside didn't show a bullet, instead the frontal bone a few centimetres above the eye revealed a bright spot in the grey shapes of the skull's x-ray – the projectile.
"Good Lord! You must be very close friends with the guardian angels, however, you must have annoyed them recently or you'd already be one of them!" the doctor in charge exclaimed. He turned to Mycroft, who was silently observing the entire procedure.
"Mr Holmes, Sir, this happens only once, if at all, in a doctor's lifetime. Your brother was incredibly lucky. The shot must have been fired by a complete amateur; he used a sports gun calibre that can only kill from quite short distance anyway. It would probably have killed him if he had aimed better, but the bullet's velocity was too weak to enter the skull's inside at exactly this spot. It's lodged in the bone. We have to be very careful, though, because of an imminent head trauma. We'll prepare him now for surgery and will remove the projectile. If there aren't any complications, he'll survive."
Mycroft stared at the medical man, clutching to a rail that ran through the middle of the lorry's roof, unable to say anything. His heart was racing, his hands were cold and sweaty; he started shivering from relief. Sherlock was alive and that was everything that counted.
With a slightly trembling voice he asked, "Any permanent damage?"
"We can't say, yet. It depends on the grade of the head trauma."
The doctor looked at Mycroft intently. His boss looked very pale and was swaying slightly; due to the mild rocking of the moving vehicle or because he wasn't feeling well, he couldn't say.
"Sir, are you ok?"
Mycroft wiped his face. "Yes, yes, I'm ok. What about Dr Watson?"
He turned towards the other medical team, who were working at John's side. They were doing an ultrasound of his abdomen and, although Mycroft didn't know very much about how to interpret the pictures the gadget showed, he could see that this wasn't good. There was too much white, almost everything was white.
"Severe internal bleeding," one of the doctors stated. "Indeterminable location. Tell the driver to speed up, inform operating theatre. Before we can take care of the broken leg, we have to find the reason for the bleeding."
Mycroft's heart sank when suddenly he heard the heart monitor make its constant beeping that told of a cardiac arrest.
He was toddling over a meadow
towards his smiling and laughing mum and dad, the grass was swaying in the wind
and tickling his legs. With every step it seemed to become shorter - no, he was
becoming taller. He wasn't running towards his parents but after a girl. She
turned around, pulling faces and calling him funny names – Harry… that was
Harriet. He had almost caught her when suddenly she transformed into a pastor,
who stepped towards him, pointing at the two fresh graves and expressing his
sympathy on his parents' death. The graves were somehow melting, becoming brown,
the fresh flowers turning into stones. The tombs opened miraculously and he
could look inside them. A soldier with a terrible hole at the side of his head
was waving at him. He tried to avert his gaze when all of a sudden the
soldier's hair grew longer, became black and curly and his face took on a
familiar look. This was the most important person in his life after his
parents. This was Sherlock. However, something was wrong. The skull wasn't
shattered like the soldier's head had been, but there was a dark spot on his
forehead, a bullet hole. Sherlock didn't move. He was dead – and therefore John
was dead, too. He remembered pain, a lot of pain, and realized that there was
no pain now. That was good, he felt peaceful, the memories of all the pain in his
life were fading. He was fading – and he welcomed it. There was no one in his
world anymore worth enduring the pain for.