The body was cold. Not frozen by any means, but close. It had an internal temperature of 8.3 °C, which was odd for several reasons. One being that it was summer and the body had been discovered outside in full sun. Another was that despite the obvious fact that it had been dead for some time, there was no livor mortis. This body had been dead for what appeared to be around seven hours. Normally, blood pools leaving a dark bruise-like discoloration in the heavier parts of the body facing down: buttocks, thighs or back. No bruising could imply that there was no blood. But besides being dead, there were no wounds or signs pointing to a cause of death, let alone a full exsanguination. Not even that it had died from the kind of exposure that would ensure an extended state of frigidity.
Sherlock leaned over the body, his nostrils flaring indelicately over the icy, blue tinged mouth. No scent of the more obvious poisons. In fact… He sniffed again more deeply, no scent at all. He pulled back, the tiniest touch of confusion in his eyes. There's always some smell. Mints, the last meal they ate, a distinct lack of oral hygiene. There was nothing.
"Milley," Sherlock said.
"Molly," she corrected.
"Yes, Molly," he said, completely distracted and not at all interested. "I need a few moments alone with the body."
"Five years," Molly said.
"What?" Sherlock asked, finally looking up at the flustered pathologist. Her narrow lips were twisted in agitation.
"We've worked together five years and you still can't get my name right?"
"Oh for God's sake, Molly, I was only joking. I really do need a few moments alone. Please."
"You never joke," she said gathering up a stack of paperwork, her every movement radiating hurt feelings. In other words, business as usual.
Sherlock sighed, the only acknowledgement that he'd noticed her frustration. The swinging door wheezed shut, defying her attempts to slam it.
He wasn't as oblivious as people believed. His face was austere, his posture haughty from a posh boarding school upbringing that brooked no slumping. He could also be a cold unfeeling bastard especially if he thought someone believed him to be a cold unfeeling bastard. Doesn't do to disappoint and a reputation as a sociopath savant meant that people gave him space. Which gave him room to think. Which was all he ever wanted.
Sherlock adjusted the tight band of his surgical glove, his eyes focusing on the body's mouth. He leaned over its face, gently prying open the lips. Cold bit through the thin latex as they moved with a soft pliancy that, due to rigor mortis, should've felt completely different. Was his estimation of the time of death wrong? Unlikely. It was just one more thing to add to his mental list of idiosyncrasies. Not unique, surely. No individual body was unique. In death the body follows a certain pattern of decay. X follows Y to an inevitable conclusion excepting exciting poisons, cleverly hidden bombs, and not at all spontaneous combustion. Or whatever this was.
He craned his neck to check the gums. Healthy. He checked the state of the teeth which were perfect in a normal, non-veneered way. They had taken care of that at least. He glimpsed down the length of the body. The nipples were a barely discernible blush shade against the paleness of her skin, now marred by the "Y" incision Molly had made and stitched up earlier. Molly's autopsy results were the same as Sherlock's; no known cause of death and every indication of perfect health. Minus the frozen and dead part.
He tried to open the mouth and the jaw refused to budge. It was much more resistant than it should have been; almost as though it were clenched tight against him.
Frowning, Sherlock stepped back away from the body, his eyes running over her clear, cold skin. This was all wrong. Years of investigative work had honed an innate ability into razor sharpness. For him to have drawn a blank meant that something was astonishingly, fundamentally, wrong.
He was becoming frustrated. When that happened, sometimes the cadaver would be subjected to experiments that would send anyone else straight to jail or an asylum. He'd pushed his limits once by using a sledgehammer and electric drill to prove a cause of death. He was saved because, of course, he had been right. The body had been cremated. What remained anyway.
Eschewing the hammer, Sherlock reached into his pocket for his phone.
Need you for cause of death ID- SH, he typed.
"Maybe just a little hammer," he muttered, turning to walk to the cabinet holding the worst of his implements from prying eyes.
As he opened the door, he heard a painful gasp from lungs long since emptied of oxygen. He spun to see the body sitting straight up.
"Oh no!" she gasped, her bosom heaving in reanimation. She looked down, her dark eyes panicked at the vulgar stitching across her body.
Sherlock, who hadn't moved in the three or so seconds since she rose from the dead, decided neither to faint nor panic.
Hands held up in a sign of non-aggression, he said, "Can I help you?"
She seemed to notice him for the first time and tried to cover her nudity. Bashful, apparently. Funny, since she was dead. To him that would've been far more humiliating.
"Where am I?" she asked. Her voice sounded ragged, deeper than it would be under different circumstances he imagined. Having one's lungs removed and weighed would do that. A small part of his mind gibbered at this thought. All of her organs had been removed, categorized, and returned to their cavity. Her cavity. Her very dead and dissected cavity. Do not faint!
He blinked slowly, gathering himself. He pushed away the madness of seeing what was plainly impossible. "You're in Saint Bartholomew's hospital," he replied.
She looked around, her dark hair sliding over blue-tinted shoulders. "This doesn't look like a hospital," she said. "Who are you?"
"My name is Sherlock Holmes," his voice calm to reassure her. When he spoke it was more of a purr, baritone and utterly without his knowledge, devastating if he had any inclination to use it for seduction. He didn't, of course, but that didn't stop it from working.
She seemed to calm as his voice had an entirely unintended effect. She looked him up and down. He looked as he always did, black slacks and dark button up dress shirt tailored within an inch of its life over a slender but strong body. His tousled dark brown hair appeared black under the harsh fluorescent lights. Sherlock's pale blue-green eyes tilted upwards, held up by cheekbones so high he looked almost alien. An overly generous mouth and nose were bordering on unattractive, but taken together and with that voice, he was magnetic.
"I'm in a morgue, ain't I," she said. "But you aren't dressed like a lab person. Mortician? You kinda look like that."
"There's been an accident," he said, one eye beginning to twitch ever so slightly.
Accident my ass, he thought. She was frozen, dead, and speaking. The only accident was that I have obviously gone insane.
"What?" she said, again.
"There was an accident. You were found in Saint James's Park. Do you recall being there? Do you know what happened?"
Her fingers started picking at the stitches over her chest. She pulled, unraveling the uppermost knot. Sherlock, never one for a weak stomach, felt his gorge rise.
My God, she's undoing her own stitches, he thought. I wonder if she'll flap open like an unlaced shoe.
"I was running."
"No, running. Away. My family they…" she trailed off. The stitching had been undone to the top of her left breast. The edges touched and began to meld into unblemished skin.
"That," he said slowly, "that is impossible." He rushed to her side. A deceased woman rising up to converse with him shook his resolve but somehow seeing dead flesh heal shattered his control. She still seemed confused and didn't notice him beside her. He watched as she tugged another stitch free, her icy skin healing its wake.
Sherlock brushed her hands away and pulled at the stitches himself. They broke with a tiny popping sound as he ripped them from her skin. His face was an inch from her navel as the last stitch slithered free.
"See something you like," she asked. Sherlock looked up. She appeared calmer now, if a little bemused. Her voice had settled as well to a more normal register. Apparently those loose lungs had rearranged themselves.
"What the hell are you," he asked, his voice bordering on panic. "You show up here half-frozen and clearly dead. You have been autopsied and the toxicology showed that your blood, what remains, was clear of any known drug or poison but was sluggish and barely existent. If you had asked me before your sudden reanimation, I'd have said that a new poison not of my knowing killed you. Introduced to you not through a needle, for there are no marks. Orally, the unnatural tightening of your jaw and lack of odor point to you ingesting the poison and it causing the muscles to seize. There are no marks on your skin; no blemishes of any sort, scars, moles, bruising to say nothing of its restorative properties. You are upright and speaking though, from all of my indications, still dead. You are not alive and yet here you sit. Why and how is that?"
"Good heavens," she said calmly, "you're a talker aren't you?" Her eyes sparkled catching the light. In their black depths, he caught a flash of blue, then green, red, orange as though holographic paper became trapped under dark ice.
He stared at her until she shrugged. "I'm not human, not anymore," she said. "The why and how are a very long story and I need to get out of here. Are there any clothes I can borrow? Possibly a jacket as well, you weren't kidding about the freezing part."