Greetings, one and everyone! Hare here, with... um...technically, this isn't a fanfic. See, I'm taking a prolonged hiatus from fanfiction to promote my new novel, "A Night at The Cup and Saucer" (which is on Amazon and Barnes &! Check it out!!) and this is TECHNICALLY my submission for a college scholarship. However, since it is a Holmes story, I decided to post it.

In other news, I am announcing the end of the "Sherlock Holmes BST Contest". After reviewing all of the fics, I have decided upon a two-way tie! Congratulations, Black Rose 25 and Kenta Divina, you are the winners! Please contact me ASAP so that we can correspond on (eventually) inserting your character into MIM!!

So, onward and upward! This is my first attempt at horror, told in Watson's POV, and I am fully aware that I am no Robert Bloch or Stephen King, but be sure and tell me what you think! Enjoy!



by March Hare, the Mad


In all my varied adventures with Sherlock Holmes during our long acquaintance, never have I faced such obstacles or witnessed such horrors as I have this night. My friend sleeps now, drugged by my own hand, but finally free from the nightmares this episode has inflicted upon him. I envy him his blissful ignorance, but I cannot risk forgetfulness, greatly though I long for it. There is too much at stake.

Perhaps to cage this darkness within a prison of ink and paper will wash the filthy residue from my mind and keep me from leaping to my pistol at every noise. The stranger Kavas has departed, embarking on his next gruesome errand, which I shall thankfully have no part in. Despite this, there is nothing to say that he may not return and call upon my newfound knowledge. At last, I can feel no shame or remorse for beginning my tale in the middle, for no eye but mine shall read this singular memoir, not even Holmes. Oh, God, especially not him. As much as I long to unburden myself, I bear no illusions as to the great turmoil he endured.

Though I may be dishonored for my lies, I will not see him suffer more because of me.


Two days prior, Holmes and I were comfortably ensconced in our rooms in Baker Street, drowsing by the sitting room fire as the late November wind raged through the narrow streets. The fall season of 1895 had been an especially productive one, with Holmes concluding two forgery cases, resolving the false accusations against Albert Vigor, the Hammersmith Wonder, and securing the ultimate fate of the murderous Henry Staunton. No cases had recently availed themselves, but for once Holmes was enjoying the lapse in casework; whether this was due to his decided mellowing since the Reichenbach affair or to the currently inclement weather I did not venture to guess.

I was on the verge of napping when the ringing of the doorbell startled me into alertness. A client, I surmised, no doubt meaning to roust us from our pleasant holiday-at-home. Jerking myself upright, I stretched irritably and set upon the defenseless coals with the fireplace poker, trying to resuscitate them. "For Heaven's sake, Holmes, a case on a day like this," I grumbled, feeling not too charitable. "Now we'll be tramping about Town through the wet, catching our death of-" I turned to Holmes and halted when I found him sound asleep in his armchair, his snoring barely audible as the afternoon Times began to slip from his limp grasp. I could not help but snicker as I reversed the poker and lightly prodded his shoulder with the blunt end. "Holmes, wake up!"

"Hm, what?" My friend jerked into wakefulness and cast about with a foggy eye.

"Wake up, Holmes!" I repeated. "The game is afoot!" I grinned to myself as I realized that I had always wanted to say that.

He fixed me with a critical eye at my parroting of one of his pet phrases and fussily smoothed the front of his dressing gown as he stood. "I was not asleep, Watson, I was merely practicing a form of meditation I learned in Lhasa."

"Is that so? And do you often snore when you meditate?" I queried. It was seldom that I had the opportunity to best Holmes in repartee, and I was shamelessly taking advantage of his momentary lethargy.

"I never snore, Watson. Now, had you some purpose in... disturbing my meditation?"

I was saved from reply by Mrs. Hudson coming in through the hallway door. "There's a gentleman to see you, sirs," said she, bearing the petitioner's calling card on her salver.

Holmes took it and held it to the light briefly. "Stiff, high-quality paper, not cardboard, with no monogram or watermark." He silently offered it to me and I accepted, reading the simple legend "Dr. Kerac Kavas." The card was bare of any medical or scientific credentials.

"Shall I show him up, sirs?" asked the landlady, not overly curious after years of strange visitors arriving at all hours.

"Indeed, Mrs. Hudson, please do," replied Holmes, resettling in the stuffed chair and pivoting it to a point between the hearth and the door. Mrs. Hudson vanished into the hall and Holmes turned his attention to me. "Unless that card is some single extravagant device, which is highly improbable, there is money behind this case, perhaps a great deal of it. How did the gentleman arrive, Watson? By cab or private coach?"

I reflected for a moment and spoke in surprised revelation. "Holmes, I heard no cab of any kind, coming or going."

He blinked in surprise and once again regarded the dismal weather outside the window. "A doctor with money to spend on expensive calling cards declines to call a cab in weather such as this? This is an odd case, Watson, and we have yet to meet the client! Perhaps if-" He did not complete his sentence, for the soft sound of footfalls alerted us to an approaching figure. I hurriedly resumed my seat and glanced at my companion. He seemed perfectly blasé, legs crossed and fingers steepled, but the familiar gleam in his hooded grey eyes suggested otherwise.

The door swung open and a man, presumably Dr. Kavas, appeared in the doorframe. I was startled at the man's visage and demeanor. From the name on the card, I had expected a tall, heavily built man, dark of hair and eye, with the thick eyebrows and broad mouth of the Slav. Instead, the man in the doorway was slight of build, almost childlike, with thin blond hair and the palest of blue eyes. His face was white and smooth as a porcelain doll, blank of expression. His attire had once been expensive, but was pitifully out of date and seemed to hang upon his body. He bore no umbrella, but his clothes were dry, mocking of the rain outside. Despite these oddities, perhaps the strangest parts of him were his hands, hanging loosely by his sides. They seemed too large for him, abnormally thin and long, like a boy wearing his father's gloves.

His empty stare slid over me, as if blind to my presence, and the utter absence of sentient emotion set my skin to crawling. The stranger's gaze did not pause to regard me, instead coming to rest on Holmes. "You are the de-tect-ive," he breathed, pronouncing the last word sharply, as if it were three distinct words. His voice was low, unnaturally deep, and nearly bare of any inflection. It was not a question.

"I am," Holmes replied evenly, striving to match the stranger's tone. "It is a rough night, Dr. Kavas, and you must be fatigued from your walk. Please have a seat." He gestured to the sofa, drawn close to the hearth.

The stranger cast only a perfunctory glance at the seat and remained motionless, continuing as if Holmes had never spoken. "I come upon a grave errand, de-tect-ive. As of yesterday, a text has been stolen from the British Museum, and I need the thief apprehended."

At the mention of an actual crime, Holmes became more alert. "Indeed? That does not seem very challenging; nothing was mentioned in the daily papers. Are you employed at the Museum?"

"The curators were not aware of its presence, let alone its absence." No wry twist accompanied this revelation; Kavas' face was as bland as ever and his hands were limp and still. He did not answer Holmes' question.

Holmes, on the other hand, spoke with amusement. "Does this mysterious artifact have a name?"

"Yes, but I am not at liberty to reveal it."

It was not often that Sherlock Holmes was completely taken aback, but this strange man had succeeded admirably. He sat back in his chair and stared at the blank figure; I could imagine the cogs churning furiously in my companion's mind. "Then, if I understand you correctly, you wish me to recover an unnamed text which was stolen by an unknown suspect from a museum that was not aware of its existence?"

"I did not say that, de-tect-ive," the man hissed softly. "The text itself does not concern you. I merely wish you to apprehend the thief."

Frustrated, Holmes rose from his seat and took a step toward Kavas, perhaps meaning to intimidate him by their differences in height, but after the first step he seemed to bounce back onto his heels, as if he had hit a solid wall. Momentary shock crossed his features, but I did not understand the reason for it then. Regaining his ground, Holmes spoke with striving moderation. "How am I to discover the criminal if I do not know the particulars of the crime?"

"The thief is Jacob Mossman, a butcher from Whitechapel," Kavas stated with finality. I was astounded. In all of our varied cases together, we had never had the criminal's name presented to us with such finality, and certainly not by the client himself!

"I fear that I am still unsure of your meaning, Dr. Kavas," Holmes began again. "If you know who the thief is and, more importantly, where he is, why enlist the aid of a consulting detective? Why not go to the official police?"

"Discretion is paramount in this endeavor, de-tect-ive." The deep voice seemed to slightly echo as it escaped his thin frame. "Were the police to be involved in this matter, there would be procedure to be followed, reports to be filed. Such clumsy intervention would be catastrophic, a catalyst of apocalyptic proportions."

Such portent words, spoken in so bland a monotone, spurred my voice in query. "Then this Mossman is using the text as a bargaining chip, perhaps, to obtain a ransom of some kind?"

Kavas finally turned his eyes to me and I cursed myself for speaking. Those blank, glassy eyes seemed soulless, utterly devoid of conscience or cognition. I was suddenly filled with an irrational terror, one such as I had not known since my brush with death on the war-torn plains of Afghanistan. "Mossman is a pawn on the chessboard," Kavas intoned. "I seek the hand that moves him." I could not help but feel relief as his gaze returned to Holmes. "You shall do nothing concerning this case until I return. When I return, you shall have your instructions. Follow them explicitly and I shall reward you handsomely." With only a bleak nod as farewell, he turned and exited the room, letting himself out of the front door.

For a few seconds, all was silence. Holmes and I seemed frozen in place by these odd and terrible circumstances. Finally, Holmes tentatively stepped to the sideboard as I rose from my seat and rousted the fire once more. I kept my back to Holmes, hoping that he would overlook the shaking of my hands, and totally unaware that he had a similar train of thought. We returned to our armchairs and Holmes passed me a glass of whisky relieved from the sideboard. We sat quietly, nursing our drinks and our thoughts until Holmes broke the silence. "I find myself in disbelief," said he, "that a fellow would come to me for help, yet place limitations on my actions! 'Do nothing concerning this case until I return,' bah! Does he take me for an incompetent?"

I noticed that the level in his glass had dropped by half and a shade of color had returned to his white face. "It is rather absurd, Holmes," I replied, feeling myself bolstered by the alcohol. "We know nothing about the client or the supposed crime. Who is this Kerac Kavas, and what is this missing text?"

In reply, Holmes swallowed the remainder of the glass and fairly leapt to his bookshelf, seizing one of his index volumes. "Kavas," he muttered, leafing through the various clipped articles. "Kavas, that's with a K, is it not? Karol, karma, kerosene, too far..." He snapped the book shut and reached for a different index, a medical one this time. After a similar bout of paging, he cast the index onto the sofa with an angered expression. "Nothing! Not a single entry for a Dr. Kerac Kavas, medical or scientific! We are obviously dealing with a pseudonym, but to what possible end?"

"Holmes, what did you deduce from the fellow? Anything of his origins, his line of work?"

Regardless of his seemingly cold façade, I have seen Sherlock Holmes in many states of emotion: excitement, fear, rage, confusion. However, embarrassment was something new to behold. Holmes actually blushed as he regarded the floor, his ears turning red with mortification as he bit out, "Nothing."

"Nothing?" I fear that my incredulity only served to sharpen his discomfort.

"I could not place his accent, nor his speech patterns," Holmes explained, still not meeting my gaze but instead finding something of acute interest on the far wall. "His calling cards suggest a wealthy man, but his clothes and means of transportation suggest a pauper. I observed no scuffs or stains to point to a profession, no telltale calluses on the fingers from hard labor, nor the peering expression of a scholar's study. Even an estimate of his age was beyond me. When he spoke... I could not focus. My reasoning was..." He stopped turned to me with a self-depreciating twist to his lips. "Never, Watson, has my reason so profoundly failed me as it has this night."

I knew that any words of solace I could offer would be mocking to his ears, so I shifted the conversation entirely. "What do you intend to do, Holmes?"

"Do?" Holmes echoed. "I intend to apprehend this mysterious thief and recover the stolen text."

"But what of Kavas?" Despite the ridiculous nature of the thought, I found myself fearful to disregard the slight man. "He made it clear that no move was to be made by us."

"Bah! Think, Watson! A man with a false name comes to us as a client, reports a crime and admonishes us not to take action! The fellow is clearly attempting to cover his own tracks as the perpetrator of said crime. Whether or not this Jacob Mossman is an accomplice or an innocent scapegoat remains to be seen." Running a weary hand across his eyes, the fire seemed to leave him and he turned to me with an apologetic smile. "And now, my dear Watson, perhaps we should retire for the night. I shall most certainly require your assistance in this case."

Agreeing, I finished the contents of my glass and bid him goodnight, climbing the stairs to my sleeping quarters. Ensconced in my room, I dressed for bed and blew out my candle, sure that the mystery would soon be resolved.

However, I did not sleep overly much.


The next day I rose earlier than usual and was surprised to see that Holmes had risen as well, sitting at breakfast in the disguise of an ill-kept laborer. He smiled with satisfaction at my shock. "Rather convincing, eh, old chap?" he asked.

"As the late Henry Staunton said, the stage lost a great asset when you took you detection," said I, seating myself at table and reaching for the coffeepot. "Should you ever retire from crime-solving, you may have a future as the next Irving."

"Ah, but you see, I am still very much engaged in crime-solving, which is why I shall require your assistance today, if you would." He posed it as a request, although he knew the answer.

"Where you like, when you like!"

"Capital, Watson! Now, I shall need you to investigate the British Museum about this stolen artifact of monumental importance. Start with the head curator and work your way down the chain; often a higher-up will deny a claim to avert scandal, but a lowly janitor will have no such compunctions. If such a text has been liberated, someone must know of it!"

"And you, Holmes?" I asked.

He gestured briefly to his current attire. "I shall spend a leisurely day in the Whitechapel district, inquiring after our friend, Mr. Mossman." Our agenda thus verified, we hastily finished breakfast and set off on our respective errands. As I left, however, even I could not fail to observe the weight in his jacket pocket and the barely-seen handle of his little- used revolver. Holmes was a notoriously bad shot except at the closest quarters and he distrusted firearms of all kinds; to have him go armed on this slight errand spoke more of his unease than volumes could say.

I secured a cab and directed the cabbie to the museum, disembarking at Russell Square. The hulking stone edifice of the British Museum towered above me, tinted dark against the storm clouds. The idea that this treasury of the ages may hold the key to a sinister mystery, coupled with the dark clouds above brimming with the promise of rain, lent the museum a dark and troubling aura. Wrapping my greatcoat tighter about myself, I ascended the wide steps and made my way into the warmer interior. The air of the foyer was thick with pressure as my steps echoed on the slick tiles.

A handful of workers and students dashed about, intent upon their various errands in different parts of the compound, and apart from these few the hall was barren. A man in a guard's uniform leaned listlessly against the wall by the door; he seemed as good a place as any to begin my investigation. "Good day!" I said cheerfully, startling the man. "I say, you've got some awfully bad luck, being stuck on sentry duty."

The man relaxed at my friendly, unassuming tone. "Too right, you know, s' boring as all h-ll."

"One would think," I continued, "that they would have every available man guarding the Library, after that book was stolen."

At that, the guard raised his shaggy eyebrows and peered at me. "Ey, there, what's that?"

Was Kavas right, and the museum staff was truly unaware of the theft? Was there even a theft at all? Feigning disbelief, I replied, "Come now, now use in playing dumb, everyone knows about it. Blaming it on loose security, I hear."

"Now, see here," the man bristled, instantly defensive as the work of he and his ilk was called into question. "There hasn't been anything pinched from this museum, not in the years I've been here. Who'd you hear that from, ey?"

"My acquaintance, Dr. Kavas. He spends a good deal of time here, but I'm sure you knew that."

"Dr. who?" The man's puzzlement answered another of my silent questions: Kavas was not employed at the museum in any capacity, at least no under that name. Wanting to ascertain if "Kavas" was a pseudonym, I described him briefly and was rewarded with a burst of recognition in the man's eyes. "Oh, that blighter! He's in here all the time! I got an eye for faces, you see, and he sticks out anywhere. Gives me the chills, he does. I says 'good morning' to him once, and he just turns and stares at me, like he's got ice water in his veins where the blood should be. It don't surprise me," his tone became injured, "that a chap like that would spread around a story 'bout a robbery, just to get decent folks like meself in hot water. You ain't a friend of his, is you?"

"Oh, no!" I protested, unsure of the look I was receiving. "I was merely curious as to how truthful his claim was."

"Well, it ain't, and you'd be better off disregarding anything that feller says. He's a cold one, he is."

I promised to heed the guard's advice and continued into the depths of the museum. Was Holmes correct in his deductions, pointing to Kavas as the perpetrator of the theft, or was the whole thing an elaborate hoax? I did not venture a guess, but instead focused on the task at hand, silently wishing Holmes better luck than I.


I returned to Barker Street late that evening. Although the thick black clouds yet blanketed the sky, the darkening of the air suggested the setting of the sun, even if it was not visible to the eyes of London. Unlocking the door, I entered my long-familiar abode and trod the seventeen steps to the sitting room, mentally composing my report of failure to Holmes. However, the sitting room was barren of life; I surmised that Holmes was still in Whitechapel on the trail of Mossman. As I removed my coat, a glance at the dining table proved my deduction wrong. A note rested on the polished surface, penned in Holmes' spidery handwriting.


According to sources, Mossman sold his butcher shop, his home and all of his belongings and was residing, if one may call it that, in a dilapidated warehouse by the Thames, owned by his second cousin. Until recently, Mossman was a long-standing member of his local synagogue and, according to his rabbi, had developed an acute interest in the Jewish Kabbala. This is suspicious behavior for a scapegoat; indeed, it is suspicious for a guilty man as well. I shall reconnoiter the warehouse while the trail is fresh, but if it appeases your conscience, I will take no drastic action without my trusted Boswell at my side.

Once assured of Holmes' whereabouts, I happily resigned myself to my armchair and pondered over the facts of the case, or rather the lack of facts. None at the museum had known of a missing text, but all remembered Kavas, with his long hands and dead eyes. Chills, the guard had said. Ice water in his veins. It fit the man, if man he was. As I sat, warm and dry before the hearth, my rational mind denied the idea of Kavas being anything less than homo sapiens, but in the cavernous vaults of the museum, the idea of otherworldly creatures became suddenly easier to accept.

The creaking of the door announced a visitor. I turned in my chair, expecting a weary Holmes with news from the waterfront, or Mrs. Hudson bearing a welcome tea tray. Instead, my own blood turned to ice as I beheld the slight form of Dr. Kavas on the threshold, standing like a vampyre awaiting the invitation of his victim. "I have come," he breathed, "to collect the de-tect-ive." His unspoken question lingered heavily in the air. Thunder echoed across the sky outside.

I rose to my feet, desperately working moisture into my dry mouth. "Mr. Holmes is not here," I replied succinctly, my voice admirably steady.

Kavas' stare seemed to intensify. "Where is he?" Thunder, closer, louder.

"He- he is pursuing a lead in the Mossman case, at the waterfront."

Kavas' blue eyes widened with a sudden fury and his twisted hands knotted themselves into fists. It was the largest display of emotion I had yet seen from the man. "NO!" he fairly screamed, the naked wrath in his tone sending me running to my desk and the drawer that contained my service revolver. "He shall RUIN it!!" He strode forward and seized my arm just as I grasped the pistol. His elongated fingers completely encircled my bicep and he fairly dragged me from my own home with an almost supernatural strength. It was full dark and raining, but I barely had time to register it as I was hauled into a waiting four-wheeler, its black nearly invisible in the storm, its driver unseen by my eyes. He cast me into the seat across from him and the carriage immediately began to move, my mind lurching as much as the brougham.

Gripping my revolver, I faced the livid doctor. "What have you done with Holmes?" I demanded.

He bared his teeth in a mirthless smile. "I? I have done nothing, K'tha. It is his own idiocy that endangers his life. If it was not for the importance of my success tonight, I would leave him to the death of his own creation."

Rage boiled up in my chest, briefly overpowering my fear. Pulling the Bulldog revolver from my pocket, I leveled it at the gruesome man and spoke as forcefully as I could. "What is happening? Explain yourself, now! Did you steal the text yourself?"

"If I did, what would it matter?" Kavas bored his eyes through me, his gaze mocking my threat. "Shoot me," he commanded. My hand itched to obey, to end the sick life that did not appear in his eyes, but I could not. Not if Holmes was at risk. With a great deal of effort, I lowered the gun. "Ah," Kavas sighed, resurrecting his humorless grin. "We see the frailties of human flesh. Since you are so adamant, and we have a ride ahead of us, I shall explain all that I can. Perhaps this knowledge will spare your friend some of his deserved agony." My heart contracted at his callosity, but I bit my tongue to the point of blood and did not speak. "Mossman was intrigued by Kabbala," Kavas intoned, "the ancient tradition of mysticism. He studied the Zohar, the Book of Light, and learned of En-Soph, the Infinite Name of God the Formless, Ehieyeh, the Crown of the One and the Three Trinities of the Sephiroth. The Sephiroth is composed of the nine Sephira, the virtues, such as Elohah, justice, Elohim, beauty, and Yah, wisdom. All the Sephira proceed from the others and all are intertwined with En-Soph, the One, but there exists a tenth Sephira: Adonai, the Kingdom. This Sephira surrounds the Nine and the One in the First World, encircling them until the Last Day when Adonai leads the One to the Second World, that of the mortals."

"Thy kingdom come," I breathed to myself, the beguiling histories of Kavas seeping past the barriers of rationalization. "But what has this... fairy tale to do with us?"

"Mossman has in his possession a text dating to the Assyrians and Chaldeans, even in the days before Abdul al-Hazred. He believes it to be an original text of the Zohar, and intends to use it tonight to open a door to the First World, summon forth Adonai and become Keeper of the Kingdom. He who controls the Kingdom has dominion over the Nine, and the Nine are one with En-Soph. Mossman intends to become God."

"But that's impossible!!" The fury of the heavens crashed over us, deafening me as we clattered through the streets on our desolate errand.

"Ah, so you are not as dense as you appear," Kavas mused, as a teacher impressed with a pupil. "Indeed, it is impossible. None can become God; none can master the Nine. Even if Mossman had the original Zohar in his hands, he could not accomplish such a feat."

"Then what is the danger?"

Kavas smiled coldly. "Mossman unknowingly possesses the Zaluthan, the Book of Darkness. The door he opens will not be to the First World but the Fourth, the world of flesh, of daemon. Through that door will flood the spirits of evil in physical form; Asmodeus the Great Serpent, Azazael the Desert Goat, the ancient sisters Lamia and Lillith, even the mighty Samael, Prince of the Fourth World, and his Harlot Queen. They will cover Albion with pestilence and famine, and mortals will be abandoned to their fate, will wallow in slavery until the Coming. That is what we must prevent."

I was astonished by his utter seriousness. Did he intend that I, a learned man of science, to accept this ancient mummery? "What nonsense!" I cried aloud. "I cannot accept this!"

Kavas leaned back in his seat, serene despite the jarring of the coach. "Then your friend is already dead."

Lightning lit the sky and thunder crashed as my heart froze. Holmes. If Kavas was to be believed, then Holmes was in mortal danger. I did not trust the man, but I could not risk disbelief. If Kavas required my belief in these fables to save my friend, then I would believe anything he spoke. "What must I do?" I asked him with nary a hint of skepticism.

Before he could answer, the brougham rolled to a shuddering stop and Kavas flung the door open against the torrential rain. He leapt out with surprising speed and I hastened to follow, dashing through the downpour to crouch with him in an alcove near a dusty door. "You must swear on your highest oath, K'tha," he intoned, "that you will follow my every direction, and never falter. Your life, and that of your friend, hangs upon it."

Had only my life hinged upon an oath to this ethereal creature, I would have hesitated, but it was not my life I held. "I swear on my word as a gentleman, I shall do as you say."

"Then be silent." He pushed the door open and eased his way inside, beckoning me to follow.


The interior of the warehouse was cramped and musty, empty crates and decaying tarp piled high round us. The chamber was black save for a greenish-yellow glow towards the far end of the room, a tower of rickety crates obstructing my view. Kavas drew my head down and pressed his lips to my ear in his desire for silence. The loathsome touch of his lips set my flesh to crawling. "Make your way along the crates and conceal yourself across from the pit. Do not reveal yourself, under any reasons. And be watchful; Mossman has not left himself unguarded. He has mastered dark things." With that, he slipped from my side and disappeared into the darkness, leaving me alone.

Heedful of his words, I crept along the wall of crates towards the glow, watchful for both unseen enemies and any sign of Holmes. My boots treaded noiselessly on the dirt-packed floor as the blood sang in my veins, the instincts honed in Afghanistan revived for the first time. But what was I to do? If Mossman was indeed about to summon a regiment of demons, what could I possibly do to halt it? Was such a thing even possible?

I soon found myself nearly parallel with what Kavas had aptly titled "the pit." A broad, powerful man in rough work clothes stood with his back to me, facing a wide crater dug into the earth, filled to the brim with a viscous liquid that lay flat and smooth as glass. I could scarcely credit my eyes as I saw that the glow seemed to emanate from the pit, under the surface of the liquid. Mossman, for so I deduced the man to be, was reading aloud from a dilapidated foreign text cradled in his arm as he passed his hand over the pit, the guttural chants twisting my stomach, the gestures his free hand formed seeming base and obscene.

Oddly disgusted, I turned my face from the sight and searched for Kavas. He was nowhere to be seen, but I spotted another figure across the room, crouching in the darkness, a figure I knew well. It was Holmes! I longed to wave or shout for him, to signal my presence, but my word to Kavas precluded such a move and Holmes did not glance my way, fixing his eyes upon Mossman. As he began to creep back into the shadows, presumably to draw closer to the grotesque spectacle, my heart suddenly leapt into my throat as an unseen pair of hands shoved him into the open!

Holmes stumbled and regained his footing, freezing in the light that emanated from the pit. Mossman ceased his chanting and silently turned to face my friend, the suspect's bearded face splitting in a painful rictus of a grin. I crouched in the shadows, paralyzed by base fear, as Holmes righted himself and strode toward Mossman, drawing his revolver and leveling it at the would-be sorcerer. "Jacob Mossman," he announced, to all appearances in complete control, "I place you under arrest for the crime of theft and-" He did not finish his sentence, for another voice sliced through the chamber, a voice I thought was long buried in the chasm of Reichenbach.

"Dear me, Mr. Holmes!"

Holmes whirled and blindly fired into the darkness, his face drawn with terror at the voice of his long-dead nemesis. I briefly imagined that I could see the reptilian visage of Moriarty lingering at the edge of the unearthly light before it disappeared into shadow. Other voices sounded out of the dark, each one well remembered and long-feared.

"You clever, clever fiend!"

"I shall sit here and watch you die."

"See that you keep out of my grip!"

"There is death upon the moor."

The owners of these voices flashed in and out of the light, offering glimpses of the heavy scowl of Colonel Moran, the terrible glee of Culverton Smith, the livid rage of Dr. Roylott, each one bent on Holmes' destruction. Holmes fired wildly again and again, but the voices only increased in number and volume as Mossman watched in amusement and the glow from the pit intensified. As the cacophony reached its peak, a lone figure emerged from the shadows to the side and moved toward Holmes. Without pausing to regard the man, the detective spun and discharged his final bullet point-blank, catching the man through the solar plexus. However, it was not this act but the identity of the slain man that seized me with such dread and disbelief that I feared I might faint.

The man was myself.

I am aware of the impossibility of such an occurrence, but this was no disguise, no matter how ingenious. Had I been a bystander, I would swear in any court of law that the man who clutched at the wound in his front and collapsed to the ground was indeed Dr. John H. Watson. I wished to scream in horror, to call out to Holmes, but Mossman was yet present and I somehow managed to hold my voice.

Stricken, Holmes dashed forward and knelt by... it, all other dangers forgotten. He dropped the gun and reached out for the creature, his breath catching in his chest. I prayed that his hands would pass through it, that it would be nothing more than an illusion, but his fingers came away red with the thing's blood. My doppelganger drew a shaky breath and fixed its gaze directly at my friend, who knelt with bloodied hands and tears on his face. "You," it whispered, and I clutched my throat in disgust, certain that the monstrosity had ripped my voice from me.

"Watson," Holmes pleaded, clutching at the thing's shoulder with desperation. "Watson, no, forgive me, I-" His voice trailed away as the thing with my face jerked once and coughed, then moved no more. "Watson?" There was no answer, no breath, no life; the monster was dead. "No..." Holmes stared at his hands, stained with red, seized the gun again and raised the barrel to his temple. Before I could cry out in warning, he pulled the trigger, the empty click harsh in the air. The gun fell from his grasp and Holmes began to scream.

The wood of the crate I crouched behind dug into my fingers as my heart cleaved in two, listening to the cries of my friend. Holmes was bent double, stained fingers clutching his head as the sound poured out of him, the screams of a man without a soul, damned by his own hand. I could barely breathe, barely think; if Holmes had felt but a fraction of this anguish as he watched me from the precipice of the Falls, I could instantly forgive him any deceit. Mossman smiled in satisfaction as he resumed his blasphemous chanting, the profane spell a counterpoint to the tortured cries, creating an unholy concerto. Rage built in my heart against this man, who in his pride and inhumanity would enslave mankind and laugh at their sufferings!

The liquid in the pit began to shimmer and spiral, the light ever growing in intensity. Even as I watched Mossman, his incantations reaching their apex, Kavas suddenly dashed out of the shadows with an unearthly speed, the silvery glint of a long dagger clutched in his grasp. With a cry, the slight man reared back and planted the blade in the sorcerer's left shoulder, the steel piercing the man's heart!

There was silence. Holmes lay slumped on his side, exhausted, uncaring of his fate. Kavas faced Mossman, his eyes finally alight with anticipation. Mossman, dealt a mortal blow, calmly turned and extended a splayed hand at Kavas. As if struck by an unseen blow, Kavas was lifted from his feet and flew into a tangle of tarp and dust. "Now, K'tha!" the smaller man cried. "Now!" I needed no prompt. Spurred by a loathing that overcame my fear, I sprang from my hiding place and dashed toward the necromancer as he turned to me. Giving no thought to my revolver or my safety, I gave vent to my instincts and leapt at the man, catching him about the knees in a flying rugby tackle. Caught off guard, Mossman flailed his meaty arms, the book falling to the dirt floor as he pitched backwards and landed with a splash in the arcane pool!

The greenish-yellow glow became blinding and a shriek tore the air to sheds, a sound that could not have proceeded from any human mouth. I clamped my hands to my ears and fell to the ground, watching in horror as Mossman flailed in the pool, sinking into its depths. Before my astonished eyes, hands reached up from beneath the surface of the pool and grasped Mossman, clawed and scaled hands, their grips melting the very flesh from his bones. Mossman shrieked in pain, but his cries were dwarfed by the demonic screeching that sent whips of pain through my body. The would-be summoner thrashed and writhed, dipping lower and lower below the surface, dissolving before my eyes until only a skeletal hand remained above the thick water, straining towards the heavens. Then it was dragged under, the shrieking ceased and the light slowly faded, leaving only a pit of mud in a dark and silent warehouse.

I sat in the darkness, my thoughts on nothing but my breathing. My muscles were water, and my mind was blessedly empty. As I sat, attempting to regain some shred of humanity, a sudden flare of light sent paroxysms of terror through me. It was Kavas, looking very weary and not at all frightening, covered in dust and grime, bearing a lit lantern in one long- fingered hand and a thick black-bound text in the other. His blue eyes were burdened and, if I did not know otherwise, compassionate. "The de- tect-ive," said he, lifting the light to illuminate the crumpled form of a man.

Holmes! Staggering to my feet, I lurched to his side and knelt beside him. "Holmes?"

His lean frame shook as he glanced up at me, bloodshot eyes wide with incredulity. His breath was shallow and rapid; he was hyperventilating. He frantically backed away from me, collapsing into himself, crying out, "No! Stay away!"

Did he think me some vengeful spirit? I reached out and grasped his arm, hoping to reassure him of my presence, but at my touch he seem to melt, screaming in terror. His voice was hoarse with the force of it and I was growing frantic. "Holmes, please! It is I, Watson! For God's sake, Holmes, please!!" None of my efforts would silence him and, in my extremity, I seized the unused revolver from my pocket and clipped him across the head with the handle, hoping that the shock would silence him. Either I was more forceful than I had intended or it was the final push he needed, for he sank boneless into blissful unconsciousness. I was horrified and fraught with worry, but a cursory examination showed him to be none the worse for wear for my actions.

Kavas came to stand near me and in the puddle of his lamplight I could see that, where the corpse of my doppelganger had lain, there was only a heaping mound of dark clay. I turned my head to Kavas, the question undoubtedly plain on my face, for he shook his head. "Come," he said simply, treading with slow and measured step towards the door. Although my muscles painfully protested, I was somehow able to heave Holmes onto my shoulder and follow the other man, leaving that charnel house and the secrets it kept behind me.


The brougham was waiting for us with its heavily muffled driver. Too weary to question, I followed Kavas into the carriage and spent the drive in silence, monitoring Holmes for any adverse signs. He was pale as a sheet and would shiver occasionally, but nothing drastic presented itself to my medical attention. Holmes was dead to the world for the entire journey, and it was to my chagrin that I had to carry him inside once we reached Baker Street. We made our way silently up the steps and I was glad that Mrs. Hudson was not roused, less out of courtesy and more out of fear of invasive questions. Kavas made himself as familiar as a fellow lodger, lighting the lamps in the sitting room and preceding me into Holmes' room, even going so far as to light the bedside lamp and turn back the comforter of his bed.

Holmes slowly returned to consciousness as I settled him onto the mattress like a child, first tensing and then relaxing as he took in the more familiar surroundings. "Watson?" he rasped, his voice gravelly with overuse.

I smiled in my best physician's manner as I peeled the jacket from his shoulders. "It's all right, Holmes. Relax." Kavas had poured a glass of water from the carafe on the dresser and passed it to me. I was surprised at his solicitous behavior, but accepted it and gave the glass to my patient, observing him all the while. Holmes' eyes responded well to the light and I feared no concussion. The best cure for him now was peaceful sleep and I prepared a syringe of morphine from his own supply to deliver that cure. Holmes drained the water with single-minded fervor and only after he had finished it did he attempt to speak. "Watson?" he asked again, sounding much more himself. "What happened?"

I was astounded. "You do not remember?" He made as if to speak, but decided against the effort and shook his head in the negative, obediently rolling his sleeve and extending his arm for the needle.

I internally debated how to phrase my explanation, but Kavas spoke before I could respond. "Mossman had ambushed you, de-tect-ive. The text he had stolen contained knowledge of ancient poisons and hallucinogens. He had exposed you to one of his experiments and you were hallucinating when we followed your trail to the warehouse and found you. Mossman was already dead from an experiment gone wrong, so we subdued you and brought you home." I took advantage of Kavas' monologue to administer the injection.

Now quieted, Holmes lay back onto the pillows and made as if to rest, but in a lightning-quick gesture, he reached out and ensnared my hand tightly in his. "Is that true?" he whispered, and I knew. He remembered everything; all that had happened, all that he had done. He longed to dismiss it as a traumatic, chemical-induced fantasy, to be exonerated from his supposed crime, but above all else, he desired the truth, no matter the price. But I could not pay that price.

For the first time in my long association with Sherlock Holmes, I lied to him.

"Yes, Holmes. Precisely true."

He released a shuddering sigh, his frame going limp with relief. "Thank God, Watson," said he, nearly too soft to hear. "Thank God." He did not release my hand until dreamless sleep claimed him.


I left Holmes in the peace of slumber and returned to the sitting room, finding Kavas in Holmes' armchair, the ghastly tome open on his knee. The sight of it turned my spine to ice. Sensing my presence, Kavas raised his head and looked at me. "Power," said he. "This book contains many spells, black magic, to grant the user more power than he had ever dreamed. With this work, a man could master all he surveyed."

"And what will you do with it?" I asked, greatly fearing the answer.

Without taking his sight from me, he tossed the volume into the blazing hearth, the ancient parchment instantly consumed by the flames. The Zaluthan would tempt no more souls. I sighed in release and nearly collapsed into my armchair. Now safe and at peace, I voiced the question that had burned within me. "What was that... that thing? It looked like... it spoke and..."

"The Shoggolem," Kavas supplied. "It is a creature shaped of clay, animated through dark knowledge, able to change form and appear as its victim's greatest fear."

It took me a moment to comprehend the weight of his words. "Then... I am what Holmes fears the most?"

Irritation flashed across Kavas' white face. "No, fool. If you were his greatest fear, that bullet would have done nothing to harm it. What he fears the most is harm coming to you, through some fault of his own. That is what the Shoggolem saw."

His words echoed within me, striking a chord that had long remained silent. Overcome, I hung my head with tears unashamedly falling from my eyes. Despite his deadly struggles with murderers, his confrontations with villains of every stripe, Holmes' greatest fear was harm coming to me. I could have no greater proof of his friendship.

"Why do you weep, K'tha? Your friend loves you and you weep. The Albion are a strange people."

Kavas' words brought something else to my memory. "You have called me that more than once," said I, hastily scrubbing my eyes and changing the subject. "What is it? Hebrew?"

Kavas smiled like an amused teacher. "The tongue is an older one than Hebrew, and the translation is difficult. The simplest definition would be 'healer' but another layer would mean 'one who heals others at great pain to himself.' It is appropriate, I think." Then, without a word of parting, he rose from his seat and started toward the door.

"What am I to do now?" I called after him.

He paused in the open doorway and turned back to regard me. "Do? Be vigilant. The threat has not ended with Mossman. Other magics, darker ones, lurk in the world, waiting for the hand to grasp it. Remember what you have seen and learned. You have saved your friend from remembrance, K'tha, so the burden is yours."

"Are you even human??" I demanded.

The man smiled, this time with genuine mirth. "If I was not, what would it matter?" With that Parthian shot, he disappeared down the stairs and I made no move to follow.

Now, hours later, I sit at my desk and frantically pen this grisly chronicle as the rays of the blessed sun spill over the horizon, dispersing the shadows of night. These papers will go into a box of their own at Cox and Co., never to be opened until after my death. The lessons I have learned cannot be lost to the passage of time, as much as I would like them to disappear. I will consign this account to a bank vault, ready for future generations, and I will be watchful. There exist worse things than Mossman in the black parts of the world and, as I hear my only friend stirring peacefully in his sleep, I realize that the cost of ignorance is too dear.

I will not lose him again.


Whew, that was a trip! That took a lot to write, very draining. Well, seeing as how it's midnight and I've a terrible cold, I'm going to bed. If you do check out my novel, please leave a review online at Amazon or Barnes and Nobles. I think that we know the importance of reviews better than anyone else. Hope you liked the story!