"Good evening!" Watson exclaimed as he entered 221B Baker Street. He knew that Mrs. Hudson would have left - again, he was late returning from his practice - but he expected Holmes would be waiting for him. He removed his bowler hat and coat, and hung them by the door. Then he walked into the lounge, hoping to drink a glass of brandy with his housemate. Unfortunately, it appeared that Holmes would also be late to return. Watson sadly moved towards the sofa, hoping that Holmes would be swift. It was characteristic of the great detective that he should fail to tell his Boswell about this capricious change of plan.

Watson stopped, and gasped. Holmes was lying on the floor, surrounded by a pool of dark red blood. Watson bellowed like a wounded elephant, and rushed to his fallen friend. The doctor grasped for a pulse, praying to God that Holmes might survive this, praying that he might live through this as he had lived through so many of their dangerous adventures. There was a pulse. A weak pulse, but Holmes might survive if Watson could be fast. So the doctor steeled himself against the dull ache in his leg, and lifted Holmes in his arms.

Watson tenderly carried his wounded companion from 221B, damning the paucity of coaches in Baker Street. Holmes's thin, almost emaciated, frame was no burden for a healthy man, but Watson could feel his leg beginning to burn. Watson sobbed as he held his friend to his bosom, praying that Holmes could survive their journey to his practice. Watson was so driven by his love of Holmes that he stopped only once. Overheated by exertion and perspiration, he had no choice but to remove his shirt. He didn't care about his appearance, for his friend's life was at stake.

At last, they reached the practice. The distance had seemed interminable. Watson's vest was saturated with sweat, and his cheeks wet with tears. His leg buckled at the moment they entered, and both men fell to the ground. Watson screamed his frustration, and then grabbed his surgical instruments from the table. He tore away Holmes's blood soaked shirt and trousers, and... for the second time, Watson bellowed like a wounded elephant. There was no wound. Beneath his clothes, Holmes was uninjured.

Watson thrust smelling salts beneath the detective's nose. And, a few moments later, Holmes spluttered and awoke.

"Holmes! Holmes! For the sake of all things good, man, what happened? Have I fallen for an enemy's fiendish ploy?"

"Oh." Holmes paused for a minute, sheepishly regarding his sweaty friend. "Watson, I'm afraid I was testing a method of faking my own death. One can only plunge into a waterfall so many times, you know. I'm terribly sorry, old man. I see you've been to a lot of trouble and-"

Watson's eyes widened, and then he keeled over, falling heavily to the ground.

"Oh, no," said Holmes. "How terrible!"

Guilt rose in Holmes's chest, much like a thermometer's mercury core. His negligence had done this to his loyal companion - it was his... his... his Boswell! Watson was slippery with sweat, so Holmes used his discarded clothes to wipe him. He held the thickset doctor in his arms and, with much difficulty, stood. There was no time to find spare clothes. Clearly, his Boswell needed immediate help. So Holmes, clad only in his undergarments, carried the topless Watson into the street.

It took several minutes for Holmes to reach the Diogenes Club, but it was closer than the nearest hospital, and there was a mysterious paucity of coaches in the streets. He kicked the door open, and barked at the club's secretary.

"Quickly! Bring my brother, Mycroft Holmes!"

The secretary appraised the two undressed men, and then winked knowingly at Holmes. "Another one for Mycroft, eh?" he asked. Before Holmes could reply, he left.

A few minutes later, Mycroft entered the room.

"Mycroft," Holmes began, "you are my only hope."

Mycroft gave Holmes a look of mortification.

"Mycroft-"

Mycroft collapsed on the ground.

"NOOOOOOO!" screamed Holmes. This was abysmal.

He called out for help, but the club's other members were too idle to give any assistance. One of them offered to carry Mycroft, but unceremoniously dumped Holmes's obese brother after stealing his pocket watch. Holmes, it seemed, had only one choice.

He shifted Watson's inert body to his left shoulder, and then, with Herculean strength, lifted the obese Mycroft onto his right shoulder. This would be fiendishly difficult...

#

Ten minutes later, Holmes (and Watson and Mycroft) had left the Diogenes Club. Holmes was making good progress, when he bumped to a sudden halt against an unseen obstacle. Because his two comrades were lubricated by a shining layer of Holmes's sweat, he lost his grip on them. Watson fell onto the mysterious object first, knocking it down. And then, with an earthshaking boom, Mycroft smashed into the ground. This was followed by an excruciating crack.

"Lestrade!" cried Holmes.

"AAAIIIEEEEE!" screamed Lestrade, whose legs had been broken by Mycroft.

It had been difficult to carry Watson. It had been nearly impossible to carry Watson and Mycroft. To add Lestrade to the load was unthinkable.

"Holmes," cried Lestrade, "you must carry-"

"No," said Holmes coldly. "I must prioritise, Lestrade. The other two are unconscious, and as such, at greater indisposition than you. Sorry."

Before Holmes could lift his charges, however, he caught sight of a familiar evil visage. It was him - Professor Moriarty, finally exposed from his concealment. Holmes groaned at the decision. He couldn't allow Moriarty to escape, but nor could he allow his friend or brother to die. He could sacrifice Lestrade, of course, but he saw no way in which this could help him.

Applying his superhuman intellect to the problem, Holmes found the optimal solution. He plucked a loose cobblestone from the street, and hurled it like a shot-put at his nemesis. The stone soared gracefully through the air, describing a perfect parabola before colliding with Moriarty's head.

"Yes!" exclaimed Holmes.

Wiggins emerged from a side street and said, "I was following him, Mr. Holmes! I knew you'd want me to!"

"Excellent, Wiggins. And now, you can be of even further assistance. Carry him."

Wiggins looked sceptically at Moriarty's prone form, then shrugged, and lifted the Professor above his head. Then Wiggins's legs quaked, and he fell to the ground. His head smashed against the cobbles.

"Blast! Blast it!" yelled Holmes. "This couldn't be worse."

From behind him, Mycroft made a loud belching noise, and then vomited over Holmes's Boswell.

"BLAST IT!" screamed Holmes.

He ran back to Lestrade, who looked up gratefully.

"You came back for m-"

Holmes punched Lestrade in the face, rendering him unconscious immediately. He deftly removed Lestrade's clothes, dressing himself in the inspector's trousers and coat. At least he could avoid arrest for indecent exposure.

He returned to the other unconscious bodies. At a count of four - Watson, Mycroft, Wiggins and Moriarty - he would never be able to carry them. But Holmes's famed intellect had already determined the solution. He extracted Lestrade's shoelaces from his shoes, then discarded the shoes in the gutter. He lashed the four men together, forming a crude raft from their bodies. He knew this would be near impossible, but it was the optimum solution.

#

Several hours later, in the early morning, the hospital came into Holmes's view. His legs had given out some time ago, so he had taken the raft's leading rope in his teeth, and used his arms to drag it along the ground. No lesser man could have exerted himself so utterly, and yet, Holmes's effort was inadequate. For the hospital was, as yet, closed. It was not an emergency hospital, and only opened during the daytime. But Holmes would not learn this, for he had passed out (with the raft) by its front door.

After half an hour, Moriarty awoke. He appraised the situation, and decided it would be best to simply leave. He exacted a small revenge by cushioning Holmes's head against Watson's buttocks.

Next, an hour later again, Watson awoke. His memory was fuzzy, due to the head injury, and he was amazed to discover he had not just carried Holmes to the hospital, but had also carried two other injured friends.

"By deuce!" he exclaimed. "I may have wounds, but I'm strong as an ox."

And he proceeded to treat their (really quite minor) injuries.

#

"Hello," cried Lestrade from the gutter.

He was lost, naked and alone.

A noise sounded in the distance.

"Holmes? Have you come back for me?"

Lestrade waited.

"Punching me wasn't on, Holmes, but I forgive you. Are you there?"

There was no response. He was lost, naked and alone.

And he had no legs.