|The Curious Affair of the High Lama
Author: Mundungus42 PM
Two men, both presumed dead, seek enlightenment and absolution. Gen. Mild spoilers through Doctor Who S6/Christmas special, Sherlock S2.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Mystery/Adventure - 11th Doctor & Sherlock H. - Words: 6,549 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 5 - Published: 03-05-12 - id: 7898158
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
© 2012 Mundungus42. All rights reserved. This work may not be archived, reproduced, or distributed in any format without prior written permission from the author. This is an amateur non-profit work, and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by the BBC or any other lawful holder. Permission may be obtained by e-mailing the author at mundungus42 at yahoo dot com
"You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend."
-Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Empty House"
She had known, of course. How could she not?
They had planned her own ersatz demise together. How then could she have missed the similar signs in his own: the suggestive blood spatter, the body, the witnesses convinced by what they had seen, the tsking reaction of an overstimulated public to someone "no better than he ought to be" getting what was coming to him. Of course she knew.
So there was a feeling of inevitability when the man who went by Torvald Sigerson of Tvedestrand, Norway, came in from a long, cold day's fishing to find a postcard inscribed with the words, "Wish you were here" and signed with bloodred lip prints.
He raised the card to his nose and sniffed.
/bespoke scented lipstick, olive flower musk, probably from Tangiers, lip prints definitely hers, corners of the mouth turned up, probably smiled while marking the card, paper cut across the upper lip, breadth indicates that it came from licking an envelope/
He thought it rather shabby of her to send him a postcard when some other correspondent merited stationery, but he shrugged this off because all that he needed to know was right in front of him.
/cheap paper, cheap print, caption in Mandarin and English, subject Jokhang temple, "famous temple for glorious Buddha or candle arranging," brown smudges dirt, likely sustained in transit, handwriting: hers, ink: mass-market ballpoint notable only for extreme durability, heart dotting the "i": irony wrapped in sarcasm. conclusion: a summons./
The front of postcard was emblazoned with the maroon and gold-tiled roof of the temple, adorned by a Dharma wheel flanked by two golden deer. The architecture left nothing to guesswork: Tibet.
He tucked the postcard into his trouser pocket, pulled off his fishy jumper, tossed it on the chair near his bed, and stretched his weary arms. He had agreed to help Nora backstage at the children's play that night, and after that to help Lars carry ore to the smithy that was his hobby during these short days and a second livelihood during tourist season. He sighed. Lars had declared him capable of making nails and horseshoes and had promised to teach him to make blades next. But the frisson of excitement that the her postcard sent through him left no doubt as to his course of action.
For the first time since leaving England and his identity behind, he pulled his black wool coat from the bottom of his battered carpet bag. A glance out the window revealed a cold, clear night, and he pulled the slightly crushed deerstalker out of the bag, pulled it on to his head, and tied the flaps under his chin. It was cold, after all. At midnight he would board the late bus to Oslo with his few belongings. But until then, he would enjoy his last hours in the town he had adopted as his own with the family that had taken him in.
He didn't leave a note. He knew they would understand.
Sigerson's passport got him as far as Samarkand, at which point he failed to grasp the subtle requests for a bribe and was thrown in jail. Fortunately, the locks were easy to pick and soon he and his cell mate /early twenties, left-handed, won a fight but failed to elude capture due to a badly set broken ankle five or six years ago, career petty thief recently graduated to car theft, beats prostitutes while drunk, embarrassed by his photic sneeze reflex/ hot-wired a nearby lorry and drove them both out of the city. He managed to communicate via map where he was trying to go, and he got a lift as far as the next town, where he hopped the express through Uzbekistan and made quite nice tips as a porter.
He didn't need to speak the language. He simply read their needs in their postures, their clothing, and gestures. His time as Sigerson, the simple mute who did manual labour, had taught him the value of silence, and the lesson translated well to central Asia. He was especially grateful to have had the experience of pounding hot iron into submission, as it had toughened his hands and strengthened his back, the two things by which he would be judged while in disguise.
In the evenings, he kept up on his Norwegian by writing postcards to the children, taking care to use simple sentences and misspell unusual words. He didn't have a name for the impulse that compelled him to send one-way correspondence, knowing they'd never be able to respond. But it gave him some comfort to know that should he happen to run afoul of Moriarty's network, or worse, Mycroft's, someone in the world would notice if the postcards stopped. Several times he wrote, Dear John, at the top of a postcard, but he never got any further than the salutation and date. These he kept at the bottom of the stack of cards that grew with each station.
There was some trouble at the Chinese border that forced him to fold himself into a steamer trunk that had already been inspected by the authorities. It had been filled with the most sumptuous wool bespoke suits that looked to be nearly his size, but he regretfully returned them to the trunk. It wouldn't do to draw attention to himself, here of all places.
On the bus to Lhasa, he found himself contemplating Irene Adler and her purpose in sending for him. She wasn't in trouble. That much was certain. And he highly doubted she'd be waiting for him. No, she'd clearly sent him to do something specific, though what it was remained to be seen. All he had to do was find it, take care of it, and find some way to let her know. After that, who knew? Perhaps he'd let Irene know he'd solved her little puzzle in person.
He preferred not to think about his own reasons for dropping his perfectly serviceable alter ego, whose days of hard labour left little time or energy for boredom or malaise. He had never slept so well in his life. Still, he felt a stab of empathy for John, in whom he had observed the same unquenchable desire for excitement that he himself felt. He shifted against his exceptionally dirty seat mate, who had three live chickens in his lap /slept with the sheep last night thanks to a jealous wife/ and hid a smile behind his hand. Perhaps he hadn't been as content as Sigerson as he fancied. Bless the woman and her impeccable timing.
He glanced at the postcard, which he kept tucked up his sleeve. The temple at Jokhang would be his first stop. He suspected whatever it was that she wanted him to see would find him eventually.
He hadn't long to wait. He was able to wander freely, dressed as a Tajik yak herder with a tubeteika worn low on his head so that his dark curls and pale eyes might pass unremarked. The labyrinthine streets surrounding Barkhor swarmed with activity— background noise, but largely informative. As he wandered the kora surrounding the temple, he spotted eighteen counterfeiters, four merchants who adulterated their tsampa, and a beggar with a false harelip. He pulled his khalat tightly about himself and made his way past prayer candles that made the air heavy with the earthy scent of yak butter.
He fell in behind a tour in English— all rich, largely west coast Americans who fancied themselves politically active. One woman /late forties, lighting designer, Free Tibet political organizer, only child in college, unhappily married, missing her tortoiseshell tabby more than her husband/ handed him a few hundred yuan when she noticed his exaggerated gawking, and he bowed and scraped as he had seen beggars do. The guide was regaling them in exaggeratedly broken English /studied English in America, Boston probably, likes people, likes gratuities even more, Buddhist, vegetarian, lives at home, elderly mother depends on his income, sleeping with the orthopaedist from Tahoe/ with the historical significance of the temple and its mix of architectural styles. He chose to ignore the guide's monologue in favour of watching a gang of local pickpockets circle the group like wolves held at bay only by his cold glare.
He was about to abandon the tour to its fate when the guide began to describe the various holy men in residence, and something sounded odd to his ear.
"The priest give the people a blessing, and in return, they give the holy man a gift, like food or money. Some make miracle, like healing the sick. The high lama," he said, gesturing toward the temple, "is said to make people understand other language."
The phrase 'high lama,' rang in his ears. He knew of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, but he knew of no such designation as 'high lama.' If he didn't know the guide had studied in America, he'd have attributed it to an idiosyncrasy of translation.
He gave the tourists the slip and continued following the perimeter of the temple, his ears alert for anything unusual. There were holy men everywhere— walking in and out of the temple in orderly lines, meditating just inside the courtyard, squatting on street corners clutching prayer beads. What was he missing?
He brushed his fingers over the sleeve of his robe where the postcard was concealed and let it flash in his mind's eye. Of course. He was looking on the wrong plane.
He glanced at the wall of the temple and finally found what he was looking for. He ducked behind a group of prostrate pilgrims and scaled a drainpipe to the roof. His biceps complained, but not to the extent that they would have done without all those months of fishing all day and smithery in the evening. He briefly wondered when he'd have the opportunity to test the stage make-up skills Nora had taught him as he hoisted himself over the edge of the roof. He was quite good at scars.
The roof stretched out like golden-tiled foothills in front of him, and to his immense satisfaction he saw a man sitting on the corner opposite in a meditative pose, wearing the sleeveless maroon garb of a Tibetan priest. He couldn't suppress a snort. High lama, indeed.
The smirk faded from his lips as he approached.
/white male, about thirty, public school side-part grown out, English? no. wants to pass for English. light sunburn— unused to altitude and sunshine, appears well-scrubbed, scrupulously clean, in fact. hiding something? hiding something about his identity but not trying to blend in. singular, and he knows it. clever, by the breadth of his forehead, and knows it./
The closer he drew to the man, whose eyes were closed, the more curious things he noted.
/no trousers, wearing boots beneath the robe, boots— 18-hole, bespoke, toe of sole worn, combined with slender build and rangy muscles in arms indicates high energy level. upturned hands show no calluses, perfect nails but un-manicured, no regular manual labour. quality of boots and soft hands suggest wealth, possibly work in computers, clearly out of natural habits and habitat. conclusions: hiding from something? looking for something? atoning for something?/
He stopped a few feet away from the man, pleased that his conclusions were holding up under closer scrutiny. The man was still but for his foot, which twitched rhythmically, and his inhalations and exhalations were too slow for him to be asleep.
He cleared his throat. The man didn't move.
"Hello?" He spoke in English, hoping for a response.
He sighed. This had to be his puzzle. Only she would send him to someone who wouldn't acknowledge his presence. Well, being Sigerson had taught him more than a bit about silence. Scowling, he folded his bag into a rough square and sat down on it in front of the strange man. He folded his legs into a Burmese meditation posture, closed his eyes, and turned his palms upward.
"It won't work, you know."
His eyes snapped open and he found the man looking at him. One corner of his mouth was uplifted in a somewhat sad smile. Despite the winsomeness of the expression, there was something unsettling about his hazel eyes. His accent was fairly good, though there was something on the edge of it that was distinctly alien, though he couldn't pinpoint the origin.
"What won't work?"
"Meditation. It's not a competition."
"A solid deduction some, what, four months in the making?"
The lama's patronising smile faded. Good. "Four months, has it really been so long?"
"Judging by the colour of your skin compared to that which is visible just inside your robe, I should say so."
"Aren't you the clever one?" said the lama, smiling again.
"It's elementary," he said, waving a hand in a self-deprecating gesture, "as is the fact that you are not really English, have spent a great deal of time in the company of a woman but have recently gone your separate ways, and you are on hiatus from your regular life seeking inner peace despite the fact that the simple life chafes at you, restricts you, yet you persist. Why? Because something has happened to you. You felt something you've never felt before, and it thrills you even as it terrifies you. You thought you needed the freedom to explore this part of yourself, but you're wandering, your journey is incomplete, and you're experiencing nagging doubts about whether you'll know when you reach the end. But if lesser mortals can do it, surely you in your infinite cleverness can figure it out."
The words poured out, hot and angry for reasons he didn't understand. "Well?" he demanded. "Am I right?"
The lama looked at him, his expression betraying neither surprise nor the anger he expected to see, just thoughtfulness. "Yes" he said. "But not just me, I think. Except for the not-English part. You're as English as jellied eel." He began to unfold himself and unsteadily rise to his feet, when one of his knees promptly gave out. His balance was good enough that he didn't fall, but he wobbled for a moment before slumping into his interlocutor, who rose quickly and steadied his arm.
"Thanks. That's one secret that's eluded me- how to meditate without having bits fall asleep. Nice robe, by the way. Very wooly."
The lama's comment registered, but it was quickly drowned out by the questions that filled his brain when his fingers registered the peculiar pulse he felt in the stranger's wrist.
/four beats. all strong. no mere arrhythmia, this. 1-2-3-4. beethoven's 5th. the knock of fate. two hearts. anomaly. unashamed of it. hiding. hiding what he is. masquerading as man. conclusion: ?/
"Who are you?"
He was grateful that the other man's face was serious. "The Doctor."
"What are you?"
"Time Lord. Not that it'll mean much to you, but trust me, it's very impressive."
"So not human, then."
"Why are you disguised as one?"
"I'm not. Time Lords have always been bipedal and remarkably handsome. Humans are the lovely false monarch butterflies that only look dangerous."
"And your intentions here?"
"You told me. Seeking inner peace. Enlightenment. Now, what about you?"
"Human, despite all evidence to the contrary."
"I meant your name. It'd be embarrassing at parties if I called out 'Human!' and everybody in the room turned around."
"Siger- Holmes. Sherlock Holmes."
He didn't miss the widening of the Doctor's pupils. Perhaps Time Lord anatomy was not so different from human after all.
"You're wearing the wrong hat," he said, pantomiming the double-brimmed deerstalker Sherlock despised.
"That wasn't—," he protested, but he stopped speaking in surprise as the Doctor seized his hand and pumped his arm up and down with every expression of delight.
"Sherlock Holmes. It is absolutely brilliant to meet you. Sorry I didn't recognize you at once. You haven't lost the hat, have you? Because that's a cool hat. You know, I ran into your creator once, in an alternate timeline. Strapping fellow, excellent cricket player. You wouldn't know him, of course. But none of us knows our own. You might have even met mine at some point."
It was an exceptionally rare event for Sherlock Holmes to be at a loss for words. Thankfully, the Doctor kept babbling happily.
"It all makes sense now, don't you see? Of course you're wandering —the world thinks you're dead after the Reichenbach— well, you know. You haven't done the Empty Thingy yet? No, of course not. Still, I need a companion and you need a Doctor because we're both going spare from boredom. Now, we're in Tibet— we could visit the Yeti! Scratch that, it's mating season— the one time you really don't want to visit. Potentially quite awkward for men of our height. Besides, somewhere warm might be nice. I heard about a fellow in Patagonia who trains cormorants. Name your destination or historical event, my dear Holmes. We'll take the universe by storm!"
As gratified as Sherlock was to see that his deduction about the Doctor's manic energy level was correct, his mind was racing from the implications of the Doctor's dizzying leaps from subject to subject.
"Of course," said the Doctor. "Didn't I say so?"
"No, you bloody well didn't," said Sherlock angrily. "And now that that particular mystery has been solved, I believe I've learnt what I came here to learn."
The Doctor's grin fell slightly. "You're pulling my leg. I can show you everything that ever was or will be."
Sherlock crossed his arms. "It's clear you know who I am and are trying your utmost to entice me to go with you, but you've yet to say anything that interests me in the least."
"Right then, specifics. I could take you to the future and show you forensic techniques that nobody in your piddly century knows. Assays. Analyses. Fingerprints."
"This isn't 1890."
"I meant for computers. Or exotic types of cheese, they're quite biologically sophisticated."
"Does this sort of thing usually induce people to follow you?"
"The cheese bit, yeah. All right, one last chance. How old do you think I am?"
"If you consider nine hundred years of travel through time and space and saving the universe countless times to be irrelevant, well, I'm not sure how to respond to that. Other than with a very rude word, possibly punctuated with a Racnoss gesture or two. Well, in order to do it properly with two arms I'd have to do it four times, but you'd get the idea. All right then, clever clogs, this is your final last chance. Where do you think I'm from?"
Sherlock tutted impatiently. "Irrelevant."
The Doctor's smile faded into an expression that a lesser man would call scary. "No. I've seen galaxies destroyed based on the whims of a single being. A single being in a single moment of time. You can scoff all you want about that old saying about the butterfly flapping his wings in China, like a big scoffing thing. But, if you call an entire planet irrelevant, a beautiful planet, by the way, with orange mountain majesties and maroon waves of grain, well, you're nowhere near as clever as I thought you were."
"I didn't say your planet was irrelevant, I was pointing out that your questions are irrelevant because you're going to tell me everything, regardless of whether or not I'm interested, because you want me to be impressed."
The Doctor looked at him through a lock of hair that had fallen into his eyes. "Are you?"
"Not as such. For someone who claims to have travelled the universe for nine hundred years, you certainly use a lot of lepidoptera-based similes."
"Butterflies are cool! Well, that makes two of us in the underwhelmed camp. I always thought Watson exaggerated your misanthropy to create a larger contrast between him the scribe and you the subject. But if anything, he made you nicer. Well, this has been a disillusioning morning. Thanks ever so much for visiting. Namaste, cheerio, toodle-pip, and all that."
The Doctor returned to his corner of the roof and sat down.
Sherlock looked down his nose at him. "I've offended you, haven't I?"
"Brilliant deduction, Holmes, but still wrong. The bottom line is that you're not exactly contributing to my search for inner peace. So, off you go."
"You're not human, yet you're seeking enlightenment. Why?"
The Doctor tossed his head dismissively. "Irrelevant."
"I don't ask irrelevant questions."
"They're irrelevant to you. Now clear off and stop fiddling with my third eye. I can fight you. I know Tai Chi."
"You were offended."
"And you were leaving to go back to mending fishing nets in Norway. What's stopping you? Not that I care."
"Oh," said Sherlock softly, "You want to care. That's why me not caring makes you angry."
"That's the problem with you lot," said the Doctor, rising shakily /foot's gone asleep again/ and pointing an accusatory finger at Sherlock. "You think you're so clever and rail against feeling and caring and all that, but have you any idea what caring can do? It doesn't quite make the world go round— that's gravity and a whole lot of dust— but it messes with things. Materially. It alters the very fabric of reality."
"It also gets people killed," said Sherlock.
The Doctor shut his mouth, thinking. "True," he said at last. "But no guts, no glory, eh?"
Sherlock looked at him through narrowed eyes. "You're mad."
"Took you long enough to figure that out," said the Doctor, smiling. "But it's madness with purpose. I don't think it's any accident that you're here, Sherlock Holmes. We're both of us where we are because we're trying to figure out these fiddly things that make humans do stupid things. But what if we could use them to make smart things happen instead?"
"You can't simply harness feelings as if they were electricity. It's not possible."
"Believe me when I tell you that it is," said the Doctor softly. "I've seen it. All it took was reminding a person, a wonderfully ordinary person, that she loved someone very deeply, and she saved hundreds of lives. If all that can happen because people focus, and I mean really focus, on things like love— no scoffing, your face will freeze that way— then why can't I do the same for myself? I can't not feel. I've tried. Doesn't work. I come out in a rash. Purple bumps, very nasty. But don't you see? Nine hundred years worth of everything, just waiting to be unleashed!"
He raised his hand aloft, fingers spread, and a single rumbling tremor ran through the building, causing them both to stumble.
Sherlock recovered first. "That wasn't you, was it?"
The Doctor examined his hand for a moment. "I don't think so, though that's exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. Shaking the world, though perhaps not so literally. I wonder..."
He pulled an object the size of a spanner from his robe and pressed a button. "Oh, that's not good."
"What's that meant to be?" Sherlock straightened his hat, which had fallen off as he struggled to regain his balance.
"Sonic screwdriver. Very useful for jiggering locks and annoying dogs. It's also shorted out. Your phone's probably dead, too."
"I don't have one," said Sherlock.
"You should. I distinctly recall that you have the one that moans when you face down Charles Augustus Milverton. Brilliant bit of misdirection, that. Oh, sorry, you haven't done that yet. Forget I said anything."
Sherlock scowled at the Doctor. "I left my phone in Norway."
"Won't do you much good there."
"If that actually was a weaponized electromagnetic pulse intended to knock out all electronics in the immediate vicinity, then it wouldn't do me much good here, either. Besides, Frida and Sven liked playing Angry Birds, and Lars and Nora won't get them their own phones until they turn thirteen."
A growling murmur began to grow in the streets below. The Doctor fairly ran to the edge of the roof and looked down. "Well, it's not just us," he said, gesturing toward the people pouring out of the temple brandishing their personal electronics.
"Not the man in the Metallica shirt just past the stand with the green awning," said Sherlock. "He's listening to his iPod. Soundtrack of a Bollywood film called Redī, probably."
The Doctor gave him an exasperated look. "How in the planet of the twelve suns could you possibly know that?"
"He's dancing at an andante 6/8, and the only such song popular in this area is Dhinka Chika, one of the hits from the film. One can't avoid hearing it on public transportation. Besides, he's singing along and it carries."
"Cheater. And you've got a laser sight on your back."
Sherlock paused infinitesimally. "Don't you mean several?"
"How did you— never mind."
"I didn't know. But I can see that you've got a few on your chest as well."
/lights coming from a distance of about 100 meters. Moriarty or someone wanting us to believe it's Moriarty. three, no, four lasers, all jostling, suggests four different confederates. but no. they move in a repeating pattern. one assailant trying to make us believe him more numerous. lasers on my back indicates one other person's involvement, probably another single person attempting to seem like more. not strictly assassins - we'd be dead already. possible that no weapons are attached to the lasers, but too risky to flee immediately. conclusion: intimidation, getting us to stay here while something else happens/
The Doctor glanced down, then raised his hands. "Friends of yours?"
Sherlock slowly raised his hands and faced the source of his own lasers, standing back-to-back with the Doctor. "Possible. Probable, even."
/nothing visible of assailant. damn./
"You know the tricky thing about electromagnetic pulses?"
"They can't have been stupid enough to have used it without considering the slow gamma ray pulse."
"Ah, so you do know. Excellent. Well, it's due to hit any second now. And when it does, I strongly suggest that we run like a particularly zippy wind."
"They can still shoot us without laser sights."
"We're running like the wind to duck behind that bit of roof, there," said the Doctor nudging Sherlock's left shoulder. Without moving his head, he glanced to the left.
"I implement my brilliant plan and we escape."
"Are you certain you know what you're doing?"
"I'm as certain as I ever am, Sherlock m'boy."
Sherlock was about to respond tartly when the lasers on his chest flickered and went out. "Run!" he shouted.
The Doctor was quite fleet of foot, and he reached the valley behind the temple's signature deer statues before Sherlock. They both threw themselves to the roof and lay down in the lee of the rise.
"You mentioned something about a brilliant plan," said Sherlock.
The Doctor drew his sonic screwdriver from his robe. "Now, we escape! Oh, wait," he said, clicking the button and patted his side. "I could have sworn I had another beryllium battery. Well, that's bad luck. I must have left it in my saffron robes. What?" he asked defensively. "Saffron robes are cool."
"What do you need it for? Is there a dog we need to annoy?"
"No, I wanted to use it to pry off these tiles that conceal our exit."
Sherlock rolled his eyes heavenward. "Of all the- never mind!" He pulled his multi-tool from a pocket in his robe and began to dig around under the tiles the Doctor had indicated.
"Oh! That'll do!" said the Doctor. "Though perhaps it was the tile on the other side of the statues."
"That's it!" shouted Sherlock, throwing up his hands in frustration. "I'll escape the same way I came."
He began to rise, but another rumble shook the temple.
"Another pulse," murmured the Doctor. "Oh dear."
"Short of UNIT or Torchwood, and neither of them is out to get me this week, nobody on Earth is supposed to have EMP technology that can deliver two focused blasts so close together, especially in the middle of a city. We're not dealing with your enemies. We're dealing with mine."
"Jolly good. Have fun with them." Sherlock jammed his hat down over his curls and made to rise once more.
"Get down, you idiot," the Doctor shouted, yanking Sherlock down by the arm. "If they're my enemies, then you're in more danger than you can possibly imagine. Now give me that non-sonic thing. I'll find the trapdoor."
Sherlock scowled but handed him the multi-tool.
"Now, a bit of awkward conversation to pass the time," said the Doctor brightly, jamming the needle-nosed pliers tips under a tile and wiggling it. "Why don't you think I can use my finer feelings to save the universe at my leisure?"
"The first is the most obvious. You've been trying for months to make it happen and it hasn't worked yet."
"It's not my fault no guru will keep me as a student. They all want me to shut down my mind. Don't they know that's how brain damage occurs?"
"It's a metaphor," said Sherlock.
"Enlightened much, are you?" asked the Doctor waspishly, breaking the corner off the tile.
"Enough to know that you can't simply turn on and off emotions. It's like tickling yourself— have you tried it?"
The Doctor, paused, surreptitiously wiggling a finger in his armpit. "No."
"Exactly. You need someone outside you to do it."
"What about actors? They can cry on command."
"Listen to yourself. They're actors. They act. Besides, sadness isn't enough to change the world. If it were, there would be fewer miserable people in it."
"For someone who doesn't even know how to shut up to stop hurting someone's feelings, you seem awfully knowledgeable."
"That's because I've had time to think and eliminated all the other possibilities."
"I don't know if you're capable of imagining all the possibilities."
"That's because you're not as clever as I am. More intuitive, certainly, but not cleverer."
"That was very nearly a compliment."
"It was intended as one. Nobody's as clever as I am. Not any more."
"It's only obvious."
"No, you ninny, I've got the door open." The Doctor gave a twist of his wrist, and a hidden aperture popped open. "Now, how are you at unassisted plummeting?"
"I can't say I've tried it," said Sherlock.
"Most people haven't. Terribly sad. You'd think they were aware of their own mortality. The landings can be a bit rough, but don't worry about that. I've left the repelling matrix on the my ship to make sure nobody finds it. If we fall in its vicinity, it should soften the landing quite a bit."
"After you," said Sherlock.
The Doctor lowered himself through the hole and grinned up at Sherlock. "Aim for the blue box. Geronimo!"
He let go of the roof. Sherlock heard a loud crash and peered down into the opening. The Doctor lay sprawled on his back some twenty feet below next to a blue police box that sat incongruously on the stone floor of what appeared to be a storeroom, half-covered by a tarpaulin.
"Let me guess, the EMP took out the repelling matrix."
The Doctor gave a groan of assent and began peeling himself off the floor. He recovered surprisingly quickly. "Easily fixed," he said, leaping to his feet and bouncing off the side of the box. He unlocked the box and stepped inside for a moment. "Right, should be back on. At least I think I turned on the repelling matrix. But if it had been the burglar alarm, it'd go off when I do this."
He banged on one of the windows and Sherlock winced, but the Doctor's fist bounced harmlessly off the glass with no sound apart from a dull thump.
"It's back on!" he called. "Come on down!"
Sherlock lowered himself through the trap door and swung his feet over to a rafter several feet below. He edged along the beam, lowered himself directly over the blue box, and let go, forcing his body to go slack.
He landed on what felt like an air mattress and expelled his breath in a whuff of surprise.
"All right, Sherlock?"
"All right," he said, lowering himself off the top of the box.
"Hard to keep a good TARDIS down," said the Doctor, patting the box with affection.
"TARDIS. Time and relative dimension in – oh, hello!"
Sherlock span around to see a group of grim-looking priests.
"We are under attack," said one finally, his English perfect and unaccented.
Sherlock's surprise must have shown on his face, because the Doctor whispered, "Universal translator," in his ear before answering.
"Seems that way. I think it's me they're after, actually, so I'll just be on my way."
The priests began to murmur amongst themselves, and the oldest one nodded. "Good."
"Right, I'll be sure to write to Wing La and Xiao Fu and, wait, what do you mean 'good?'"
"You are a man of much wisdom," said the old man, bowing, "but you're awful at meditation."
"I am not!"
"Your foot always twitches," said a young man, clearly attempting to hold back a smile. "That's why we made you practice up on the roof."
"Hang on, you said that being high lama was a great honour."
"And you always put nonsense words in the sutras," added another.
"I was making it more universal. All right, you lot," said the Doctor, laughing in defeat. "I can see I have worn out my welcome. Get some other fool to be your high lama."
"That fool will have very large shoes to fill," said the old man.
"I'll not dignify that with a response," said the Doctor, bowing to the giggling priests and stepping into the box. "Come along, Holmes."
Sherlock caught a flicker of movement from above in his peripheral vision. He glanced up at the trapdoor in the roof and nearly stumbled in shock.
And someone else. Light brown hair in a cloud of curls. Full lips. Bright, intelligent eyes. Tawny where Irene was pale and round where she was angled.
In unison they raised their fingers to their lips, eyes dancing.
Finally, the strange woman gave him an exasperated look and gestured for him to follow the Doctor into the box.
They both blew him kisses as he closed the door behind him.
Torvald's Travels by Frida and Sven
Here we translate postcards from our friend Mr. Sigerson to help our English. He went away on holiday but writes to us so we do not miss him as much.
Dear Frida and Sven,
I am sorry to send you another picture card from Siam when I am not in Siam, but I am deep in the jungle, so there are no picture cards to be bought. Besides, if I sent you a picture card of the giant rat we discovered, you should be frightened. They say Siam is really Thailand, but I think of it as Siam because of the play you were in about the English lady and the king. Now that the Mentawi village knows how to protect its food stores, I am going to South America to the mountains, where my friend says there are dinosaurs and he promises to show me the stars. My friends are always telling me that knowing the stars is important. The stars do not help me catch fish, but I suppose they can help steer a boat in the right direction without a compass, so perhaps they are right. I hope you are having fun in school and that you can learn about the stars so we can talk about them when I come back.
Yours in Sumatra,
247 comments - 1- 2 – 3 - 4... 19
May I be the FIRST to congratulate you on an excellent entry?
hahahaha fail! slow arse
great way to teach these kids English
Better than having them think we still call it Siam.
Lovely artwork, Frida. The blood dripping out of the velociraptor's mouth is the perfect colour.
See a lot of velociraptor attacks, do you?
Only when you're on scene before me. Funny, that.
Perfect opening. Sorry. Drinks?
Giant rats and dinosaurs. Well, that's just grand.
but the bit about the stars sigersons clearly a fan of yours.
If this is you and Sally taking the piss I will kill you.
wish we were this popular. besides sallys rubbish at art.
Love your work, Frida and Sven! Did Sigerson write 'dinosaurie' or 'dinosauris?' Just curious!
at-Whay are-hay ou-yay earing-way?
A come-on-proof vest. What have you got?
ome-Cay ind-fay out-hay. Hint: tiny t-rex.
Author's Notes: Enormous thanks to Bookwyrm86 who encouraged me to write this bit of silliness in response to Moffat leaving both his title characters presumed dead at the same time, and was also kind enough to gamma-read! Much love also to Mr. 42, beta-reader extraordinaire, and dickgloucester for delta-reading and Brit-picking!