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When Death Flees

By Timerie Blair

Mystery / Scifi

When Death Flees

I gasped, my mouth dry as I struggled to draw life into my lungs. Why couldn't I breathe? It was always been so easy, in, out, in, out, but now taking a breath the hardest thing I've ever done. My heart stuttered in my chest, like kick starting a car. It began beating frantically, making up for the lack of air. After what felt like a million years of gapping like a fish out of water, something gave way and oxygen rushed through me. Gulping it down, I tried to recuperate using my usual logical process.

How did I get here? Wherever here is… A memory sparked across my closed eyelids, making me tremble. There's not a lot I am truly afraid of, but those last few moments as I fell through the air, realizing I wasn't going to survive were the most terrifying in my life.

It's then that I recall my life should have ended. I should be dead. Silly Sherlock Holmes with the funny scarf, running about solving crimes to keep himself from going mad had failed. Sure I had a plan to survive. It was all worked out in my head, but when the moment came, I slipped up. I fell, and there was no one there to catch me.

I could still feel the wind send its fingers through my hair like the busybody it was. It lifted my black coat behind me, a morbid cape. As the ground grew closer, I never closed my eyes; instead I screamed, utterly terrified. The concrete rushed up to me, I felt a sharp pain in my neck, and the world flicked off like a light switch.

So was this death, then? Some sort of rubbish afterlife? No, of course not. That was ridiculous. Beneath me, I could feel ice cold metal. On top was the slight weight of a sheet. If I was dead then… well, I didn't know. Can dead people feel? My heart was beating in my chest, rewound and slowly counting down again. Deciding I wasn't deceased, I tried to move. However, the moment I did, spasms of pins and needles flashed like lightning down my arms and legs. I gasped, thrashing in pain as cramps locked my legs. My head slammed against the ceiling and my arms against the walls. Suppose that's what you get when your blood stops moving for… for however long it stopped. It only felt like a moment had passed since I'd hit the ground, but that was unlikely. Moaning, I lay still.

A sudden thought typed its way across my closed eyelids accompanied by a spark of fear. Was I in a coffin? The walls were close enough to be one, however, my fear died down as my mind automatically started deducing. Calm down, Sherlock, this isn't a horror film… It was freezing in here, like a fridge. Coffins aren't cold, and coffins aren't metal… usually. Flicking open my eyes, I was met by identical darkness. Cautiously, I clenched my fist and lifted it to the ceiling above me. I met resistance about two feet from my face. Slowly uncurling my fingers, I pressed against the ceiling with both hands. With care, I traced down the walls. My heart raced for a moment, claustrophobia attempting to overwhelm me. My breath came fast and I shut my eyes quickly. Stop it. I told myself sternly. You'll never get out if you panic.

After a moment, I managed to get my heart rate down to a reasonable level. How to escape… I need to concentrate on escaping… And to do that, I needed to know where I was. Biting my lip, I felt pain. Not a dream, then… Lifting my hands in a praying position beneath my chin that I found comforting, I opened the door and stepped into my mind palace.

I found myself in a library with thousands of books stacked in twenty foot tall bookshelves. Sunlight fell in sheets through floor-to-ceiling stain glass windows. Peace washed through me. I admired the way my mind filled the gaps in a setting without me having to explicitly think about it. Out the window was a garden, and inside, the wooden floor was spotlessly clean. I could see the inverted reflection of myself at my feet. This was where I kept all my memories, each book a different scene. Smirking, I slowly wound in and out of the book shelves, waiting for a book to catch my eye. There was a memory in here that could help me figure out where I was, I just needed to find it.

After a few moments, my eye fell on a small binder. Reaching forward, I picked it up and opened it to a page at random. I watched the scene around me fade like a chalk painting in rain, to be replaced by a memory. It was a few hours before I met John for the first time.

"Are you sure this is necessary?" Molly murmured nervously, clutching her clipboard. Her white coat blended in with the surrounding walls of the morgue. It smelled like antiseptic and cleaning supplies in here.

"Don't be ridiculous, of course it's necessary, Mary." I murmured, inspecting the metal cupboards where dead bodies were placed. I unlocked one and carefully inspected the blue corpse within. "Hmm… A bit fatter, I think." The body had to be exactly the right size for my experiment to work correctly.

Molly swept a hair from her face, "It's Molly, actually."

I didn't glance up, "Did you say something?"

The girl, she didn't really look like a woman, appeared flustered. "Um- no. No," she laughed nervously, and I wondered why, "I'm going to just leave you to your-uh- work."

In the long run, I suppose I should have given her a response of some sort, but I was too busy inspecting the body in cupboard 3B. The corpse wasn't exactly what I needed, but it would suffice.

"Okay!' Molly said brightly after an awkward pause. I heard her footsteps as she walked away and I sighed. Keep everyone at arms length, be clueless, don't react, those were just a few of the rules I gave myself. These rules kept me safe; they kept me from getting hurt. I didn't have room in my mind to pick up on social clues because I needed space to solve my mysteries. After a while, being distant got easier and I did it without even trying.

Gasping, I sat up suddenly, my mind palace dissipating like smoke. My forehead smacked against the ceiling, but I didn't care.

The metal cabinets. Good grief, I was in one of the metal cabinets at the morgue! Once more I felt panic overwhelm me. These things were air sealed like a refrigerator! How long would the oxygen last? Only a few minutes, judging by the size. If I didn't get out of here soon, I'd suffocate and die-erm- die again. I shook the thought away. It's impossible I died, otherwise I wouldn't be alive. Someone had made a mistake, or something. That happened sometimes, right?

I didn't really believe that. Maybe on the operation table someone may be dead for a few minutes, but by the time the body was put in the cabinets, they were dead for at least an hour. Shivering, I dismissed the notion. I didn't have time to think about that.

The room was already feeling extremely suffocating and I shortened my breaths. I needed to make noise. Maybe someone would hear and let me out? I almost laughed. This entire situation was like one of those cheesy movies that always came out around Halloween. I'd be convincing people that the zombie apocalypse had overstepped the bounds of fiction.

Whatever, I needed to get out. Gathering up the thin air, I shouted at the top of my lungs, banging and kicking the walls. After several minutes, my throat was raw and my knuckles bruised. Still no response. Resuming my shouts, I continued until I was gasping for air that wasn't there. I coughed, and lay still. How ironic, to survive such a long fall only to die in a dead person fridge...

My breath became more and more shallow. Dead person fridge, that's what they should be called, I thought disjointedly. Stars appeared behind my closed lids and I gave up. Fine. I'm supposed to be dead any way. The world grew even darker, if that was possible, and I knew in a few moments I'd be unconscious.

It was in that last moment, I heard the air seal release. Groaning faintly, I felt someone pulling me out. An onrush of oxygen met my lungs. Gagging and coughing, I breathed in the air. It's amazing how much we take for granted things like oxygen. Now I was gulping it down like I could never get enough.

After a moment, I calmed down enough to open my eyes again. I realized someone had opened the door of the cabinet, and I stared up at the blurry form my rescuer.

I blinked, even the slight light was blinding. Squinting, I managed to bring into focus the person above me. Confusion coiled around me at the sight.

My voice was crackled and dry, the way it was when I almost got strangled a while back. "Mycroft?" I whispered hoarsely.

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