Baby Blues

Part 10

by Mary Christmas (unicorn_76010 at lycos.com)
4/21/02
Chapter Nine
Holmes frowned as he walked alongside Wiggins. The boy had come into the rooms looking upset about something, and it had taken much coaxing -- and some deductive reasoning -- to find out that he was worried about Jacey. He was afraid she might be doing something illegal, due to the way she had been acting lately. Holmes had immediately offered to find out, and the relief on Wiggins' face was certainly worth it.
Now they were heading towards where the teenaged girl lived -- on her own, no less. When they finally reached the rundown apartment building, Holmes began to take note of all the surroundings. It wasn't a bad neighborhood, but neither was it the sort of place he would allow a sister or daughter of his to live on their own.
Stepping inside the building, he was a bit relieved to find it nicer than the outside, and he turned to Wiggins. "Has she ever told you what she does here?"
Wiggins shook his head. "No, Mister Holmes....she said she just lives here, and gets this weird look on her face. You know, like when someone's lying, and they're not really used to it?"
"A point in your Jacey's favor, I suppose," Holmes murmured. He took a quick glance around at the desk along one wall, the chairs situated opposite, and the long hallway that ended in a staircase, as well as what looked to be an old-fashioned lift, before walking over to the desk. There was a pad with several names written down in a flowery sort of handwriting, and a pen sitting near it. There was nothing else on top. A perusal of the drawers showed nothing in them, either, so he looked over the names on the pad. They were all first names...and they were all names that could be given to girls: Lina; Tina; Anna; Beth; Alice; Allison; and Kat.
"What do you make of this, Wiggins?" Holmes asked in a low tone. The young man walked over and looked at the pad.
"I don't know, Mister Holmes. I'd say they might be friends of hers...but I don't know why she'd put them down like that."
"Hmm...." Holmes nodded, and looked down at the ground around the desk. Ordinary signs of foot traffic. He then walked around and down the hallway to the lift. The doors had been sealed shut, and judging by the make of the sealant, only fairly recently. He supposed a modern lift would have been too complicated to replace the old system, but in many of these buildings, those older systems worked very well with proper maintenance. Of course, if one did not want to attract too much attention to oneself, one would not want to have a service person come in for that.
He abruptly turned from the lift and walked up the stairs, Wiggins following close behind. He looked around and found the lift doors on this floor, and frowned. They had not been sealed. With a quick check for anyone coming, he pressed the down button on the wall beside the doors. They immediately opened onto a chamber full of machinery.
"Whoa, that looks like a full scale model of Jacey's science project two years ago," Wiggins exclaimed, looking very impressed.
Holmes raised an eyebrow. "And just what is it supposed to be?"
"A holographic projector, that projects holograms that seem to be, um...well...real. You know, they seem to have a brain of their own, and aren't just recordings? Even though that's all these are. Supposedly, any hologram programmed into this thing can be programmed to respond to outside questions...a lot like robots." He stared at the thing a moment and then frowned. "Looks like one of the wires shorted out, though, and just recently too...like maybe this morning?"
Holmes looked over Wiggins' shoulder at the wire and nodded. "How long do you think it will take to fix?"
"To fix?"
"Yes, that is generally what one does when faced with a broken object...I wish to see this hologram Jacey programmed."
"Oh, only a couple of minutes, but then we'd have to program its intelligence network and...."
"Just the wire will do fine, Wiggins."
Wiggins nodded and looked around. A toolbox sat in the corner of the chamber, out of the way of several things and he picked it up, rummaging through it. Just a few minutes later, he had the wire replaced, and the machinery running. They both stared at the hologram of a middle-aged man with a kindly face.
"That's Mister Peters, our old biology teacher. He was a pushover...not that I ever took advantage of that...anyway, he was so absentminded he once came to class without his shoes and socks on. I wonder what she's got a hologram of him for...."
The sound of feminine laughter, relatively close, broke off any wondering either of them had to do, and they froze where they stood. There was nowhere else to go. Voices could be heard now, even closer.
"Oh come on...I've seen him, remember," one voice said. It sounded familiar to Holmes, though he couldn't place it. "He isn't that old."
"Hey, just cause he looks young doesn't mean he is," another voice protested, this one he had no problem identifying as Lestrade's. The other voice came to him then. Alice Presbury, nee Murphy.
"Oh, come on," yet another voice spoke up, "You're just saying that."
"No, I'm not," Lestrade insisted, "He's positively ancient. I mean, he's practically a family heirloom -- wait -- he is a family heirloom." The other women broke down into fits of giggles.
Holmes stiffened indignantly. Family heirloom? She had better be talking about those journals, though logic told him otherwise.
"So, you're saying you own him Beth?" Mrs Presbury asked, a sly tone to her voice. More giggles followed this question.
"Well..." Suddenly, the entire group consisting of eight females of varying ages -- though most appeared to be about Lestrade's age -- walked around the corner and spotted them. Lestrade's eyes widened, then she glared at him defiantly. "What exactly are you two doing here?"
"Um...well, Inspector...I was...worried about Jacey and..."
"Wait, isn't that Professor Peters?"
A young lady with purple hair stepped forward, looking upset. Holmes supposed she was Jacey. "Yeah....he's...a hologram. I guess you don't want to stay here anymore." She walked over and stood behind Wiggins, as though hiding from the women she had just been bantering with.
"A hologram?" Lestrade asked, "Well that's a relief. I told you I didn't trust that guy. And I'm staying. I like it here." There was raucous agreement all around.
"Really?" Jacey asked, "That means a lot to me. When I first opened this class...no one wanted to trust a teenager...so I created Professor Peters...Anyway, I haven't been able to keep up with the service on the machinery, and it's been disfunctioning. That's why the 'professor' wasn't around today."
"Well, Jenny," one of the women -- she appeared to be in her forties -- said, "I think you're positively brilliant. Now, I better be getting along or my husband'll go stir crazy. See you girls next time. And Kat, don't worry, everything has a way of working out in the end." She smiled at Holmes and Wiggins, and then walked out. The other women soon followed, leaving only Jacey, Mrs. Presbury and Lestrade.
"Jenny?" Wiggins asked, "I thought you hated that name."
"I did...but...well...I don't know, it seems kinda appropriate...if you know what I mean? Thanks for being worried for me, by the way."
Wiggins blushed. "Hey...so um..you wanna go get some lunch?"
"Sure! I'll see you later, Beth, Alice." The two of them walked out.
"Well!" Mrs. Presbury said, "I think I'll be going, too. You can give Beth an escort home. Bye; talk to you later, Beth." Before either could protest, she had left as well.
"Family heirloom?"
"Well, it's true," she said, placing her hands on her hips and glaring at him. Then she started laughing. Again. "Holmes, you look so...stiff...."
Before he could reply, her wristphone chimed and she answered with alacrity. "Dr. Dawson!" Her features instantly turned fearful and he stepped beside her, concerned as well. He peered over her shoulder at an elderly woman with smiling features.
"There's good news and there's bad news...well, bad if that's the way you want to take it..."
"Doctor," Lestrade ground out.
"The good news is that there really isn't anything wrong...."
"But?" Lestrade prompted.
"But I did notice something unusual...a doubling in the number of cells that should be present...doubling too quickly, I might add...." Dr. Dawson took a deep breath before continuing. "You are the mother of monozygotic twins -- identical in laymen's terms."

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