In honour of Sherlock and John's 221B Baker Street, this is a 221b ficlet, composed of 221 words, the last ending in "b."

When the Minutes Drag

Sherlock was engrossed in his experiment when John said goodbye and left to join Lestrade for a pint.

In retrospect, Sherlock couldn't be certain if he'd offered even a nod in reply.

Once the chemicals in his test tubes had surrendered their mysteries, Sherlock began to feel the drag of each empty second.

With autumn's arrival, the nights were growing longer, John liked to say. This one became interminable.

By 3:07 a.m., twenty-three texts to John and twenty-one to Lestrade had gone unanswered.

At 5:19 a.m., Sherlock received a URL texted by an unknown sender. The webpage contained an embedded video.

At 5:22 a.m., a second text: "What did I do to your DI?"

The silent film ran for one hour and seventeen minutes. Not once did it show Lestrade.

Instead, the camera focused on John, bound and struggling hard, absorbed by events off-screen.

Sherlock observed every detail of John's haggard features. Twisted in rage. Blank in horror. Stony in anguish, tears tracing the curves and hollows of stubbled cheeks.

He read the words from John's lips. The furious, "No!" The desperate, "He'll die if you don't stop now." The broken, "No more. Please."

Finally, the unblinkingly certain, "You're a dead man. If I don't kill you, Sherlock will."

At 6:40 a.m., the film and Sherlock's world both faded to black.


Vital Stats: Originally written in September 2011.

Originally written for the "Fall Back into Sherlock" fest at the Sherlockmas Livejournal community.