A/n: There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. All whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will spend their life after death in paradise. I believe this to be true.
No human knows what Heaven will be like, exactly. I only focused on ideas of creation healed and the curse of sin broken. I don't claim to know how things will be exactly.
"You were shot, do you remember that?"
I faced the man who was talking. He held a book in his hands, and His face was serious but calm. "I remember. Am I dead, then?"
"No. You're alive for the first time. Now look." He opened the book and pointed; I saw my name written there. Not just my name...everything I had done, said or thought. My entire life was in that book, and from the thickness I saw every human's history must be contained in the book as well. Some of the words recorded of my life made me sink to my knees in shame, but that only lasted a moment, and I saw that it was all in the past. Even the good I had done did not seem so vast in my eyes, none of that was all-important. Only His next words were everything: "This is the book of life. Your name is here; your place is certain. Come along Holmes, it is time for you to be welcomed home."
I had never seen his face before, but I felt glad he addressed me so familiarly. He held out his arm and I took it, and we passed from darkness into a sunny place, bright and calm, there was a grassy field about us and laughter rang on the air. Ahead of us on a path I saw a glistening city.
As we walked I noted that the stiffness and pain had left my body, and my mind felt different as well. The dark shadows that so often gathered in my thoughts were gone, and not just absent—they would never return. The desperate need for mental stimulation had quelled, I was content to look about the various people playing games and chatting all about on the grass. Though my mind felt sharper than ever, it did not rust from a pause in working; I felt a new sensation of peace as I soaked in the day. I did wonder at something, however, and voiced my concern.
"Are there no mysteries here to solve?" I asked.
"There are mysteries," He replied, taking me by the hand. "But not the kind whose root is crime, and evil. Do you remember, Holmes, how you wanted to pursue your interest in chemistry?"
"Yes, I remember that."
"It's like that here. You will have things to learn forever; you'll always have something to occupy your mind. Yes, always."
Grateful tears sprang from my eyes and I was not ashamed; he put his arm around me. "I can hardly believe it is true."
"It is true, and there's something else. Can you guess?"
"Yes," I whispered, leaning against Him. "It has no power over me anymore; I shall never be slaved to it again."
"You're free from your sin, forever," He agreed. "No more struggling, Holmes; your battle is over and you have won. I am proud of you. I am very proud," he repeated gently, bending to whisper in my ear. "I know it wasn't easy for you, but you persevered."
His words of affirmation meant more to me than I would ever explain, and the joy of my freedom was overwhelming. I recalled, however, that I had not struggled alone on earth, and I quickly asked if Watson were here.
"Yes, he will see you quite soon. Follow me."
My chains forgotten, I rested in trust and walked close beside Him toward the City; we were nearer now. I took a closer look, now, at the people in the field. They were playing games from all countries and eras—I recognized Mancala, the stones glistening in the sun—and cricket, could it be? Several hounds were running after a hare, and I watched in amazement as the hare stopped, panting, and instead of tearing it to pieces the hounds nudged the fluffy creature in a friendly manner and lay down to rest.
Presently we came to the gate of the city; it was an archway, carved from a giant pearl. I marveled as we walked through it; it was easily the size of Paddington Station, but much more beautiful, since all the layers of nacre were revealed and glistening. A nearby man was exclaiming about the colours in joy, but he paused to wave to us. After waving back, I asked who he might be.
"That is Michelangelo, he comes every day to the pearl gate," He said, smiling. "He likes to paint pictures for others to hang in their rooms; he'll gladly paint one for you if you ask, just as you'd like. He did not live in your time, so he'd be pleased to learn all about it. In this city, there's never an end of stories to hear or tell."
"I imagine not. We have rooms here, then?"
"Of course. You remember the verse, Holmes? In my father's house there are many rooms. Everyone has a room here."
"What is it?"
"Well, it's only…is Watson's room near mine?"
He smiled joyfully, almost mischievously. "The rooms are next to each other, yours and his. And he had been getting yours ready for so long—of course it was nearly ready when he came, but he adds new touches every day. He wants to make it perfect for you."
"Does he really?" I asked excitedly. "What did he--well, no, better it be a surprise. I say—Lestrade! Is that you?"
"Mr. Holmes! Holmes, ah, it's been too long. Welcome home!" Lestrade cried; he was giving Toby a bath in the river up to his knees, and had rolled his pants accordingly. His complexion looked much better, not as sallow, and as he ran to meet me I looked in wonder.
"Your foot's straight now!"
"So it is! Everything's right at last." He grasped my hand warmly. "It's good to see you again. Just the other day I was thinking of you, and our adventures. I saw some really bizarre plants, you see, and thought, 'Holmes should certainly write a monograph on those when he comes…' yes, once you're settled, I've so much to show you."
"We'll have enough time, won't we?" I asked, pressing his hand and looking a bit anxiously to Him. "I won't have to leave?"
"There is infinite time," he reassured. "And you'll never have to leave. You could stand by this river for two years if you wanted. But as for me, I did tell Fanny Crosby I would listen to her new song this afternoon; would it be all right if Lestrade showed you about? I will see you later, Holmes." He smiled kindly at me before walking away.
"He will be back, of course," Lestrade explained, rubbing Toby dry from a towel he'd taken from his shoulder. "Now let me show you about a bit, that's my job after all."
"You still have a job?" I asked, as we walked along the riverbank.
"Oh yes, everyone does. Wouldn't do to be bored! I have two jobs, in a way: I tend to the police dogs, and I show people about, getting them used to things at first. Like right now, for instance. Wait a bit, look, I want to show you. See that tree, there, in the middle of the river? This here is the Tree of Life. Very handy if you get a scrape or some such injury. The sap in the leaves works wonders." He plucked a leaf and handed it over for my inspection.
"What, you can get injured here?"
"Oh, not badly, only a scrape or two. But those can happen when you go on adventures, and at any rate I imagine you and Dr. Watson will be having your usual boxing matches and other scuffles," he laughed.
"Watson…I want to see him, Lestrade. Can I?"
"Certainly, I'll show you the way."
He took me to a rectangular building, with a courtyard in the center and an arched gateway set in either of the short ends of the building. Weeping willows half-circled a little pond in the courtyard of feathery green grass; a familiar buzzing came to my ears as we stepped through the archway. "Ha! look, bees!"
"Yes, those are your very bees," Lestrade replied with a grin, gesturing to the hives.
"What! my bees are here?"
"Of course, they're all made new; He sees to everything. They buzz all day, happy and safe…and they don't sting anymore, that's a mercy! I live here too, in this building you see. It's been arranged so that people who know each other generally live in the same area," Lestrade explained, glancing over his shoulder as Toby ran to play with a bulldog. "We can get to the interior through these sliding glass doors set all around the courtyard walls. This one here is Watson's. Ah, but look, he's seen us!"
The door flashed open, and there he was—my dear friend and companion, running to me without a trace of a limp. His face was radiant, his smile as kind as always. I saw Mrs. Watson over his shoulder, standing in the doorway with a smile as she watched us. I felt no jealousy but only gladness that my friend was reunited with the kind woman.
Watson was murmuring into my shoulder now, holding me tightly, and I had never been so glad as now to embrace him. "I've been waiting for you…I've missed you, Holmes, how I missed you! I'm glad you're here now, together… you won't imagine everything in store! Wait until I tell you about it…and the feast that is to come, we'll all be there, and He will be there of course…but come, quickly now, and let me show you your room. Mary did help with ideas—give me your hand, Mary dear—and even Lestrade found a thing or two of interest. Speaking of which, where are you going, Lestrade?"
"Have to get back to my work," he grinned. "Seems Mr. Holmes is in good hands. I'll see you lot later. Come along, Toby."
As Watson pressed my hand again, and Mrs. Watson led the way to the new room everyone had worked on for me, I felt such a rush of peace and gratefulness, and an unconditional love surrounding me like a cocoon. I had not died: I had begun to live, and this life, I knew, would be an adventure that not even my finest case could parallel.