Sherlock - Dangerous Mould and Shot in the Dark Trilogy

Chapter 51

He was strolling through the Holmes mansion's vast grounds, looking for another specimen of Solanum dulcamara, or Bittersweet Nightshade, as people without proper botanical knowledge called it. It was impossible to talk to most people about plants – not flowers, plants!- since they couldn't distinguish Bellis perennis from Taraxacum officinale, or a daisy from a dandelion. However, he wasn't interested in just the plants and their blooms, he was interested in the alkaloids they produced. Solanum dulcamara produced three different kinds of poisonous alkaloids, which he was interested in. Unfortunately, that prat of a kitchen maid had fed his latest yields of the Nightshade to the rabbit, thinking he had picked some rabbit food. What sense was there in picking bloody rabbit food? He had to admit, though, that the effects the Bittersweet Nightshade had had on the rabbit, had been quite interesting. Regrettably, the rabbit hadn't lasted long and his observations had come to an abrupt end when his grandfather had found him poking the rabbit to make it vomit once again. His grandfather hadn't been pleased to put it mildly.

He had been tempted every once in a while to test the effects of solanine on himself, however, hadn't had access to unripe potatoes and had been slapped on his hands a couple of times for picking the green tomatoes. He knew now that the solanine could kill you if the dosage was high enough; it was just a matter of working it out, so this had after all been an interesting outcome, despite the fact that he now needed a new specimen of the plant to examine it closer.

He was deep in thought and only noticed the man when he reached out a hand to him that was holding a wilted plant.

"Are you looking for this one, Sherlock?" the man asked, and the very moment he lifted his head to look at the man properly, he was overwhelmed by the deductions that where whirling in his head and that came to a single conclusion: RUN!

The last thing he remembered before everything went dark was the cloying scent of Chloroform he normally used to anaesthetize Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit flies he was doing genetic studies with. He knew he would just drop like the flies from the air.

When he woke up, he was surrounded by a darkness that was deeper than that during his unconsciousness. He still smelled the remnants of the Chloroform on his skin, which was disturbing his ability to deduce his surroundings. However, the smell of the narcotic was still overlaid with a much stronger, musty odour and a biting stench of decomposition. Sherlock felt his heart beating violently. With the faintest trace of light, he would have been able to find his bearings, but in complete darkness, it was beyond even his possibilities.

He tried to move. Nothing. Only now did Sherlock realise that he was lying on something flat. He couldn't say whether it was the floor, a board or whatever. It wasn't anything soft, though. His feet and arms were fixed so that he couldn't move them. The tiny movements he was capable of making, were just millimetres before ankles and wrists were hurting so much that he tried to stretch his arms and legs even further to loosen the painful grip of his bonds.

"Stay calm and think!" Sherlock thought to soothe himself. He wanted to say it out loud, maybe even scream, but he felt the tape over his mouth. He wouldn't be able to open his mouth, let alone utter anything. He needed to control his panic. Oxygen supply in situations of panic wasn't sufficient when just breathing through the nose – he would faint if he didn't manage to calm down.

Knots, the knots of his bonds were special knots, tightening with every movement, cutting into his skin deeper and deeper.

He was cold, in fact shivering, and he realised that he was naked. Naked and tied, that wasn't good. He remembered looking into the face of the man who must have kidnapped him. What had he to do with the man? He normally wasn't good at reading people's faces, but this one had had such an obvious look of hatred that it had instantly set off even his interior alarm.

As fear was mingling with the cold, the shivering became worse. His desperate attempts to suppressthe involuntary contractions of his muscles caused pain throughout his entire body, which, however, was nothing against the numbness that was spreading in his hands and feet. By moving, he had tightened the knots to such a degree that the blood flow was already partially interrupted. His hands and feet would die if the knots weren't loosened very soon. The urge to fight and scream became unbearable and he started moaning in lack of the ability to open his mouth. He couldn't avoid the tears that were springing to his eyes, feeling the hot liquid running down his cheeks, burning into his cool skin. The desperate effort to control his rising panic was in vain, and he realised that he needed to open his mouth in order to inhale enough oxygen. However, the fact that his mouth was taped closed, increased the hysterical feeling. There were sparkles emerging in his darkened view – he was losing consciousness again.

He didn't have the faintest idea how much time had passed when he felt his senses coming back. The cold had crawled into his entire body, numbing it; however, the pain in his wrists and ankles had become less severe. He gingerly tried to move a finger just a tad to make sure the pain relief wasn't caused by the fact that they were already dead. The bonds' knots had to be different now.

The very moment he lifted his index finger he felt that his lying position was changed from horizontal into slanted, his head lower than his feet. He wasn't quite upside-down, but he could already feel the increased pressure of his blood running into his head.

With a quick and rather brutal movement, the tape was stripped off his mouth, but he couldn't welcome the feeling of being able to breathe through it since a wet cloth was put over his mouth and nose and again, he had trouble getting in enough air.

When he found that water was poured over the cloth again and again, and he desperately tried to suck in oxygen through the wet rug, his fear took control of him completely. The water was constantly triggering his reflex to vomit and he was about to lose it entirely. He threw his head from one side to the other, trying to rid himself of the rug on his face, wiggling ferociously with his body with all the strength he could muster and his bonds allowed.

He felt that if the water didn't stop, he would suffocate. The gag reflex grew so strong that his entire body was convulsing, however, apart from a little bile, there was nothing to throw up. The acid stomach liquid flowed into his mouth and from there into the nasal cavities, etching the mucous membranes and burning like fire. He wanted to spit the bile out, but simply couldn't.

There was a strange and unnatural whimpering sound and he could only guess that it came from himself. He became fully aware of the fact that he wouldn't last much longer, when all of a sudden the cloth was gone. After some painful coughing, he lay totally still, just inhaling and exhaling, trying to fill his lungs with the oxygen they were longing for. He now heard the movements of his kidnapper, the slightly ragged breathing, which could either be caused by a sick pleasure or by the hatred Sherlock had seen in the man's face.

When beside his simple struggle for staying alive his mental abilities recovered a bit, he wondered why in the world he was held captive. Apart from offending people occasionally, he had done nothing that would justify this torture. He tried to speak, but all that escaped his mouth was an unintelligible croak.

"How are you feeling, huh?" the man asked him, a tone of evil amusement in his voice.

Sherlock didn't see him, rather felt the man as he was leaning in to him. He smelled his breath, which revealed, apart from a mild form of halitosis, that he had been drinking - not just this once, but on a regular basis. His last meals' ingredients had been garlic and onion, and the mixture of the different smells again triggered his gag reflex.

"Not so well, I take it," the man said, blowing his breath directly into the boy's face.

"You see, Sherlock Holmes, it's not nice to serve as a testing rabbit. You understand? - No, you don't."

Sherlock was unable to speak, all his efforts to focus his mind on assessing his situation were in vain. He distantly wondered whether his situation had anything to do with the dead rabbit as the man had spoken about a testing rabbit. It hadn't been his fault that the rabbit had eaten the poisonous plant!

"You wonder who I am?" the man spat and the boy could feel the warmth radiating from his abductor's skin close to his own face. Although he was freezing cold, the warmth wasn't soothing; it felt rather revolting.

Sherlock still couldn't say anything and for a short while the only sounds audible were the breaths of him and his torturer.

"You don't wanna talk to me? Then I'll talk to you – and you'd better listen carefully!" he hissed, saliva spraying on the boy's face, who desperately wanted to wipe it away, but still the bonds prevented any movement of his arms. He didn't dare to move his head to the side as he knew he would very likely be too close to the man's face and, therefore at risk of physical contact, the very idea of which revolted him.

"I'm an avenging angel and you, Sherlock Holmes, are nobody anymore. You will soon be forgotten by the world, by your family. Nobody loves you anyway – you're a nuisance, worth nothing. You mummy didn't want you, your daddy despises you, your brother hates you and finds you just annoying!"

The boy's eyes were wide open. He desperately tried to see through the darkness and he fought to avoid the imminent emotional eclipse of his heart. If he had always been sure of the love of his family, he would have thought nothing of what the man said, but he was aware of the sad truth in what he claimed. And that truth hurt even more than the physical pain he was suffering from at the moment.

The man went on talking and Sherlock wished he was able to shut his ears from what he was hearing.

"Your fucking grandfather is a murderer! He murdered MY father and I'm gonna show them what it's like to never be able to bury your family member – at least not whole!"

It felt as if the man was coming even closer. He could only be millimetres away. His words were like venom, uttered like the hiss of a snake.

"When I'm done with you, there won't be much left to bury."

He laughed, a dirty and evil sound that along with the words he had spoken, crept into the boy's heart and made his hair stand on end.

"Oh, they will be able to bury you - in pieces. Small parts, over some weeks. A finger first, then a toe, maybe an ear, then parts of your skin. You will rot to death finally and you'll embrace it by then!"

Sherlock mustered all his willpower and croaked, "What do you want?", although he was afraid that the answer would only be a confirmation of his own dark premonitions.

The man laughed again. "What do I want? You little RAT! Listen carefully, because these will be the words that will stay in your mind for the tiny rest of your bloody life: I want to DESTROY your family like yours has destroyed mine!" He was whispering dangerously and repulsively and Sherlock believed him, every single word, causing his hair stand on end.

If only there was some light! He felt like a toddler, helpless and afraid of the dark. Mycroft would laugh him as he claimed that darkness didn't hold anything one had to be frightened of; and yet it did now!

All of a sudden, the warm breath on his skin was gone and he heard a door open. A little ray of light reached his eyes, but was almost immediately gone and he hadn't been able to see anything. He was alone.

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