“‘Kalyn’,” Sherlock said out loud, handing the box to Lestrade. “I’ve heard that name before.”
“Good, something we can run with,” Lestrade said, taking the box from Sherlock. “Donovan!” he called, standing up and walking towards the door of his office.
She met him and looked around the room in slight surprise. She too did not expect to see John and Sherlock back so soon. With the developments that had happened the day prior, though, it wasn’t too surprising.
“Run a database search of everyone in England with this name. No variations in the spelling. I need this exactly as is.”
She nodded as she wrote down the name and went to her computer, entering the information and waiting for the results.
“Once we get that list, you can look through to see if any of those names stick out to you.”
Sherlock had been too busy thinking about the name familiar to hear Lestrade’s instructions. The familiarity was what frightened him. It was as if he had known this name for quite some time, filing it away in his mind for later use.
Pacing back and forth in Lestrade’s office, Sherlock kept closing his eyes and thinking, trying to get to his mind palace. His mind jumped from idea to idea. First he went through his family’s names, to which he came up empty. He then tried to think of people he had associated with that he held close, but none of them had ‘Kalyn’ as a first or last name.
“Still can’t get a hold of Aryn,” John announced. “I’ve tried her phone at least ten times now.”
“She’s probably exhausted. Best you leave her be for now. We can fill her in later,” Lestrade decided, sitting back in his chair. He watched Sherlock’s face twist as he tried to remember. The way Sherlock’s mind worked was an enigma to the DI, Lestrade glad that he didn’t have to deal with that kind of process when working on cases.
He thought back to what had happened with Aryn earlier. Never in his life had he seen her as drunk or as disheveled as she had been. She looked as if she had been crying, which was an odd sight for Lestrade to behold. He had always known her to be a strong young woman. She never had to succumb to alcohol use to ease her mind, nor did he think he had so much going on at home to be worried about. He had no idea her family was in the state it was in, and if he had known about her depression, he would have stepped in to save her from her self-harm sooner.
As a father figure, he felt he was failing.
Donovan walked in a few moments later with a list, a name already highlighted. “You’re not gonna believe it.”
Aryn woke up in a chair. Her head hurt more than before, but
this time the pain wasn’t internal. She could feel the blood dripping down the
side of her face, suggesting the wound she had sustained wasn’t only reopened,
but it was also larger.
Looking at her surroundings, she couldn’t see anything aside from a small window that sat across the room. From what little light she had, she could tell that this room was underground, the window set high enough so that she could see above the surface. The sky outside was a bright blue and clouds were rolling across it at a steady pace. The wind must have been especially strong that day.
The room was dark, Aryn and the chair she was tied to the only things she could see in the room. She couldn’t even tell where the door was. Was this it for her? Was she going to die in this chair—in this room where no one she cared about would be able to find her in time?
A cold laugh startled her. It came from a darkened corner of the room. Aryn’s head immediately turned to look at the figure, trying to hide the fear in her eyes.
“No need to put up a front with me, sweetheart,” the man cooed, standing up from where he was. “You won’t die as fast as the others.” He walked over to her slowly, taking in what he had in front of her. “You’re going to be the first one on the list to die. Sherlock won’t be very happy when you’re gone. Or maybe he will be. Judging by how he’s been treating you, one can’t really tell.”
She felt her jaw tense as her eyes continued to follow the figure, not blinking.
“Relax. Make yourself at home. You’ll be here for a while.”
“Her middle name is ‘Kalyn’?” John asked, astounded at the
fact that Sherlock wouldn’t be able to remember such a minute detail such as
this. He could tear someone apart by making deductions about their appearances,
solve a murder at a wedding, and tell a person about the differences between
the various kinds of chewing tobacco, but he couldn’t remember Aryn’s middle
“A.K.C.: Aryn Kalyn Clarke,” Lestrade said, his gaze at the paper growing graver. “You said she hasn’t answered any of your calls, John?”
John shook his head, his attention immediately going to Sherlock.
Sherlock’s eyes had grown very intense since Donovan had come in. The worry in his eyes was much more apparent now. Still not knowing who they were dealing with, Sherlock stood up and went to grab his coat. “We need to go to her flat. Now.”
“A.K.C.; why are you
so formal with your text signature? You don’t need the middle initial you
know,” Sherlock had teased. They were sitting at the library on a Saturday
morning enjoying the emptiness the building had to offer.
“Just A.C. makes me sound like a cooling unit. The K makes me sound more…professional,” she said. “Besides, I’m proud of my name.”
“How so?” he asked, looking over the book he had in front of him once more.
“Kalyn is my grandmother’s name. It’s Greek for ‘rose bud’. My mother said it always suited me because I was sweet and fragile in my youth.”
How could he have forgotten? The answer to the mystery package had been in front of his face.
“Her name,” he told Jon as they sat in the cab.
John looked from side to side as if he was supposed to know what that meant.
“Aryn’s middle name means ‘rosebud’. Her name was the clue for the last victim. She’s probably the first person this killer is going to murder.”
As they drove through the busy streets of London, John looked out the window at the various screens that held many advertisements. They were large attention-getters, people often stopping to watch them go through their cycles of ads.
John wouldn’t have paid them a second glance if it hadn’t been for one screen in particular. The image on that screen showed a frail girl sitting in a dark room. He swallowed hard.
That one image was now on two boards. Then three. Then four. It spread until all of the boards now showed this girl.
“Stop the cab,” Sherlock ordered. The cabby continued to drive. “Stop the cab!” he shouted. The sudden halt of the cab matched the rest of the intersections, people getting out of their cars and filing out of shops to see what was going on. All eyes were on the many screens.
Aryn looked exhausted. The gash on her forehead was much larger than what John and Sherlock remembered. Her eyes were filled with fear, but her expression was as serious as she could make it. There were very determined lines running across it.
“Sherlock Holmes,” she began, much more calmly than Sherlock anticipated. Her tone was one of hesitation and bitterness. “You’ve solved part of my p-puzzle.”
“Ryn,” he whispered to himself. Sherlock could feel the anger traveling from head to toe, his fists clenching and his heart pounding in his ears. Every way he turned, Aryn’s face was on a screen. He even saw Lestrade get out of his police car to watch the scene unfold. He looked like a father whose daughter had been kidnapped, his body tense and scared.
“We’ll see how long it t-takes you to find her.” Each word was clear and deliberate, her pacing slow and even aside from the occasional stutter.
Sherlock tried to read her face to see if there was any indication of where she could be or who she was with, but he couldn’t find anything. Whatever his person had said to her prior to starting the feed must have put her in her place. The threat must have been a serious one.
Or she was planning something else entirely.
“Back where it b-began. Y-you have twelve hours.”
The end of her message had come. Aryn found her chance.
“Small window. Underground. East,” were the only four words she uttered.
No sooner had the words left her mouth, the image on the various screens went black.
Her blood curdling scream rang throughout London, rattling Sherlock, John, and Lestrade from the inside out.
“SHERLOOOOCK!” she cried out.
The screens suddenly returned to their original advertisements and the audio returned to normal, as if nothing had happened.
The people on the streets started to chatter and move about, some with concern and some with indifference. Many were curious as to who this girl was who knew Sherlock Holmes, others were scared because they recognized the DI from Manchester.
John and Sherlock exchanged fearful looks with each other before looking towards Lestrade. They both rushed to the cab they had climbed out of and gave extra money to the cabby to get Aryn’s flat at a faster pace. They hoped there would be something there to point them in the direction of where Aryn was being kept.
“That was very rude of you,” the man commented, wiping his
hands with a towel he had brought.
Aryn was no longer tied to her chair, not that she was strong enough to get up and do anything anymore. She was certain that part of her cheek bone was fractured and that she had some severe bruising in her midsection. Her nose was bleeding out onto the floor and she felt as if her right knee had been blown out.
“You know, Sherlock is a hard man to reason with. Somehow you tamed him.” The man walked over to Aryn to sit in front of her, moving her head and pinching her nose so the bleeding would stop. “How did you do it?”
She stayed silent, her frustration and anger boiling within her. Why should she explain to this man how she and Sherlock had become friends? Why should she pour out her feelings to the person who would most likely kill her?
“It’s very impolite to not answer someone when they’re talking to you,” the man commented, staring down at Aryn. His stare was intense. He had stubble on his face and he didn’t seem like he was very tall. His demeanor was calm, yet commanding. She tried to remember why he looked so familiar, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
“Patience,” she muttered.
He laughed. “Being patient with Sherlock…you must be made of the stuff if you managed to be his friend and fall in love with him.”
At Aryn’s flat, tensions ran high as the three men combed
through each room trying to find any clue as to where she could be hidden. Nothing
was out of place aside from the fact that there were still bandages sitting
where John had left them on the dining room table.
Sherlock walked near the front door again and picked up the picture frame containing Thalia and Aryn when they were in college. He sighed, looking at how happy Aryn had been. Aside from the day he had saved her from tripping on her shoe laces, the smile in the frame was a rarity. Part of him wished that he could rewind to that point in time. He was happy, she was happy, and things weren’t nearly as chaotic as they were now.
“I’m coming up with nothing,” John finally announced, sitting on Aryn’s couch in exhaustion.
Lestrade came out from her bedroom, his eyebrows furrowed and the hard lines on his face showing his frustration. Without warning, he knocked over some books that sat next to Aryn’s couch in a fit of rage, yelling out as he did so.
Sherlock looked up at Lestrade, setting the picture down and walking over to the other two men.
“What did she mean when she said ‘back to the beginning’?” John asked, looking up at Sherlock.
“Could be a number of things: her first job as a DI, her first date, her first day of college,” Sherlock replied, sitting at the dining room table.
“But you’re the connection aren’t you?” John prompted.
Sherlock nodded. The “beginning” was probably something tied to Aryn and Sherlock’s relationship back in college. It wasn’t much to go on. There was Aryn’s first bar visit, Aryn’s first college dance, Aryn’s first meeting with Sherlock—all of these and more were viable options. They didn’t have the time to go through each and every one to find her.Combing his hands through his hair, he turned to Lestrade and said, “I’ll give you some addresses. We need to start looking now.”