The Case of the Strange Etruscan Vase
by Joy Ellen Parker (Joyspc at aol.com)
"If time travel is a logical impossibility, Holmes, why are
you wearing that toga?"
If Inspector Beth Lestrade was hoping to finally see a look
of complete crogglement on her famous colleague's face, she was
sorely disappointed. Even flat on his back in a strange, smelly
alley and wearing a toga, Sherlock Holmes managed to look only mildly
bemused. He patted himself carefully as though searching for his
wallet and then rolled gracefully to his feet. "I perceive," he
said, "that Professor Cromatty's remarkable machine fits subjects
with the correct costume for whatever time period they enter,
holographically and automatically. I wonder how far the radius
extends. . ." He paused in his musings to offer a hand up.
"I wonder where the door out is." Lestrade ignored the
gesture, climbed off her hands and knees and glanced around. It
appeared to be broad daylight. Now that she was getting over the
sickening dislocation that had gripped her since they had chased
Cromatty down a perfectly normal staircase and had been
unceremoniously dropped what seemed a hundred feet, she could hear
crowd noises and animal noises; and as for the smell, that alone
convinced her they weren't in Kansas, er, New London, anymore.
Peering out the alley's entrance she could see men in togas,
long tunics, and even loincloths making their way down a busy
street. The women wore long wrapped garments like the one she found
herself in. A quick check convinced her Holmes was right. She could
still feel her New Scotland Yard uniform and its equipment, even if
she couldn't see it.
"The answer to your quite pertinent question, my dear
Lestrade," Holmes was saying as she tried to get her bearings,
"depends on where Professor Cromatty is now and what he may be
planning to do in this time period."
"You mean what Moriarty instructed him to do." She had a
headache and doubted that it was going to get much better. Holmes
turned and began to examine some graffiti scrawled on the nearest
"Whatever city this may be, we find ourselves in the reign of
the Emperor Nero, though the precise year escapes me."
"The nutcase who fiddled while Rome...."
"Great, just great." Just then the bit of crowd she had been
observing sourly scattered like a flock of frightened geese. A
small dark-skinned boy with a mass of curly hair was being chased by
three honest-to-God Roman soldiers. He did a forward roll between
the legs of a man carrying a large woven basket, ended up on his
feet, and twisted around two women with buckets and a mule. Before
Lestrade could take another breath he had careened into the alley
and right into Holmes, who shoved the boy behind his back without a
word. Lestrade moved up to flank her partner as the soldiers pounded
past. She waited a few moments to make sure there weren't any more
to the posse and then turned, prepared to grab if the kid decided to
scamper off again without a proper thank you. She had agreed with
Holmes' charity instinctively, but it also occurred to her that they
could use some irregular help at the moment.
She should have known Holmes would be fluent in Latin, which
she reminded herself was a good thing since it was certain her
emergency translator didn't have dead languages on file. The great
detective and the boy were talking like old friends. She heard the
name "Elizabeth" and what sounded like "feminine" or some such and
realized she was being introduced. She nodded at the boy and smiled
faintly. He patted her arm in a friendly way and went on gabbling
excitedly to Holmes, who nodded and smiled himself. "This is Cyrus,"
he explained. "He is grateful to us for our help and insists on
taking us home for a meal. I've gathered that this is in fact Rome
and so have told him that we are travelers recently arrived from
Britannia. I am Linus, a merchant," Holmes raised his eyebrows at
this description of himself, "and you are Elizabeth, my wife, who --"
"Your WHAT??" howled Lestrade as Cyrus grabbed her and Holmes
by the hand and hauled them around the corner.
Editor's Note: Characters and situations from Storykeepers
are property of Shepherd Films Ltd. of Dublin. Characters and
situations from history are public domain, so nyah nyah. Holmes and
Lestrade are already covered in the site's disclaimer. Everything
else is Joy's problem.
Latin note: In Latin, the word for "woman" and the word for
"wife" are the same: "femina".
On to Part 2!
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