by Liz de Jong (corellian_whiskey at hotmail.com)
After what seemed an eternity, Liz finally felt herself drifting
back towards consciousness, away from the black swirling morass that had
swallowed her whole. Questions still burned themselves across her mind
in great flashing jumbles, but their urgency had been dulled by the
passage of time.
How long have I been asleep? she wondered, moving her head
about slightly. What happened... what....
Suddenly Liz's eyes snapped open, and she was instantly aware of
several things at once. She could smell the rather sweet fragrance of
tea somewhere nearby, and heard her almost ancient little teapot clanking
Liz sat up, and reached down to dust herself off and smoothe out
the wrinkles of her clothing. She jumped when her hands met with a sleek,
modern skirt rather than the bottom reaches of her favorite bodice and
dress, and her mind finally came to her fully, escaping the fog of
For just a few moments, she felt as though she had just lain down
for a nap in the parlour back home, perhaps awakened by the gentle,
familiar sounds of her servant preparing her tea like she usually did
in the afternoon.
But after her initial confusion, the familiar sight of her own
living room walls brought her back to the present day and age, her own
decidedly Victorian furniture and decor, interspersed by the occasional
modern item, reminding her of who she now was, with a faint echo of who
she had been.
A dull ache now presented itself, throbbing insistently at the
back of Liz's head, calling for attention. She pressed a hand carefully
to the back of her skull, wincing when her fingers traced over a rather
large bump that was still forming. She guessed it would be rather painful
for a few days at least, and heaved a sigh of remembrance for her once
long blond hair. Her newer, shorter, modern cut would not cover it as well.
The sound of glass on glass reminded her that someone was in the
house, in her kitchen, and making tea. Remembering days passed, her heart
ached for her old serving girl, whom had also been one of her closest
friends. Liz had treated her servants like family, and indeed, Marie
had been like a sister.
Holmes poked his head around the corner that lead to the kitchen
just as Liz was wiping away a tear, blinking when he noticed that she
had finally awakened. Before Liz could say anything, he dissappeared,
then quickly reappeared, carrying her tea set to the coffee table in
front of the settee she had been resting on, taking a seat himself
across from her. She resisted the urge to smirk when she noticed that,
like herself, his knees were quite high in the air when he sat on the
too-short furniture. He looked decidedly uncomfortable, in more than
just a physical sense.
"I... made you some tea, Miss..."
"Elizabeth. You may call me Liz." she cut in, reaching for a cup
and the teapot as quickly as she could. She poured them both a favorable
amount, and rather shakily set the teapot down again. She was quite weak
yet, and had managed to spill tea everywhere. "Drat!"
Holmes did not interfere or aid her in the cleaning up of the
spill, making an educated guess that she would more than likely feel
more comfortable cleaning up after herself. After all, he'd noticed,
she kept quite the clean and functional house, and was easily capable.
It was typical of a then-modern Victorian, he mused. The seating
arrangement almost a textbook example of perfect Feng-Shui, the furniture
delicate yet functional, complete with the high-backed wing chairs he
favored himself, all arranged near a warm fireplace. Several small items
were scattered here and there on well-dusted shelves, but nothing too
tacky. What he noticed most were the books, that were far from typical
of the type of Victorian women he had met in his business ventures.
And this woman herself, he had also thought, was not quite
Victorian anymore, yet not quite completely modern, either. Her clothing
reflected the fashions of old much like his own did, but her hair and
sparse makeup were of the cosmetics of today. Her speech patterns
contained a little more of the rigidity he so knew than people of today,
yet was not completely outdated as he himself had been for the briefest
of times when he had first begun to adapt.
Again, he thought of the books, shooting another quick, hidden
glance at them. They, too, were an odd mix... many of the newer titles,
many of which included tales of vampires, and magic. But these were
mixed on the shelves with books that were more familiar to him. One,
he even noticed with a start, that he had owned himself, at one time,
many years ago. The cover was badly battered and patched, but still
functional. Other such books were everywhere on the shelves, obvious
relics from the time they had in common. Interesting.
Snapping back to reality, Holmes picked up his own teacup with
a little uncertainty. He was not exactly keen on having used an
unconscious woman's teaset while she lay in the other room because
of him, but he knew that he could not say what he had, what he knew
about her past, and then dissappear. No, from what he had learned of
her... that had already happened once.
Liz took a sip from her teacup, feeling instantly a little more
comforted, more warmed.
"Thank you." she said quietly, more into her teacup than to
Holmes. She, too, was not used to such situations, nor to being fussed
over, even if the fuss was forced by a guilty conscience, which she was
almost sure of.
"It was nothing," he replied instantly, feeling a bit more relaxed.
At least this woman was not angry at him for his kitchenside intrusion.
"Now... about what you said. You... were in the same experiment?"
Liz asked, almost afraid to say anything, in case he had been in the same
situation as she, equally hurt be his re-entry to life. Whom had he lost?
Did he have family he missed?
"Yes and no, my dear." Upon seeing the confusion on Liz's face, he
continued, "Quite some time ago, when I was in retirement, I did much
experimenting with my hobby of beekeeping, and made some... interesting
discoveries. A complicated series of events, including a recent crime
wave, have brought me to these modern technological wonders, and,
consequently, to life once more. So it is true that I was in the same
type of experiment, but not by the same scientists."
Liz nodded, knowing that this was very possible, having read an
article in the local magazine not that long ago about such technologies.
She, too, had been researching some records, yet had never come across
Holmes'... but then again, she was only searching for those whom had had
contact with Setats. So this was his past, then.
"I see." she answered, taking another sip of tea. "So your research
on behalf of the others conned by Setats brought you to me. But why to
me? Why not to one of the others?"
Holmes, who had always been very good at regulating his facial
expressions through excellent acting skills, almost lost the battle this
time, resisting the urge to soften his gaze or the weak spot in his heart
for anything that reminded him of his home of old. He suddenly wished that
Watson had come with him.
"Your case was most singular, and, I thought, worth further
investigation. Most of the others whom Setats had been in contract with
were old investors from the 20th century, who had incidentally paid quite
large sums of money to the promise of renewed life and double the sum paid.
Of course, Setats was just a con operation, and they never were
reanimated. They were, therefore, on the records my research provided, but,
upon closer inspection," the image of several cemeteries montaged
themselves across his mind, then, along with the names of his interview
list of Setats patients on the tombstones, "I found that they were
impossible to interview."
Liz's mind reeled with confusion, and her straight-backed posture
failed her momentarily, as she hunched over in thought, her chin resting
on her upturned palm. This WAS most singular, she knew, and again she was
taxed with the question of why she was the one who was reanimated even
without paying into the fund or knowing of its existence, and who had been
dead for quite some time by then. She then voiced those thoughts to Holmes,
who nodded silently for a while, lost in thought himself.
"That," he finally replied, "is why I have come. You were on the
records as well, and, I discovered, were alive and well here in the city,
with your.. business of sorts." Holmes grew more visibly uncomfortable,
and Liz couldn't help but smile at the realization that hit her then. She
him uncomfortable... because part of the reading had come true, so far,
for him, and he had not expected it to nor believed that it would. The
part about the two of swords, and the part about the Tower.
"I see." Liz said simply, still lost in thought.
"I am most curious as to why a company of charlatans would actually
get hold of the technology they never really possessed, to bring back to
life a girl that they had never heard of and who had died long before their
time. Most curious, indeed."
This, too, struck Liz as very odd. Many things then became apparent
to her, such as that someone had to have known about her -- someone from
this time -- to have located her. And that someone must have had a reason to
even reanimate her in the first place. This was not all just a coincidence,
of that she was certain.
She was left once again with more questions than she had answers to.
Eventually they began to talk about other things, having run out of
clues to think upon, ending up more on the times of old they had both known.
Liz told him all she remembered about her previous life in the world they
knew so well, all about being an orphan just a year before she died when
her father was mysteriously murdered. Her mother had died in childbirth,
leaving herself and her father to tend to and fend for themselves and the
money they always seemed to have all on their own.
"We had gotten along well, living in a nice part of the city with
servants, as well as more money than we would ever need. The money was
Father's, gained through his business ventures, of which I knew next to
nothing. I only knew that they were not exactly legitimate, but I would
never have betrayed Father, my only living relative back then.
But when he had an argument with his business partner, things got
worse. Suddenly he would not let me take the horses to town on my own, or
leave the house without a servant with me. He began carrying his gun with
him everywhere he went, and I noticed a great decline in his health. He
ate next to nothing, and was constantly pale and edgy. Finally, one night,
he did not come home. The police came to my door that night, and informed
me of his murder. I grieved then... but I knew that it was the price he
paid for the life he led. It sounds wicked of me to say so, I know... but
I am not so cold. He knew the risks."
Liz ended with the wiping of another tear, looking at Holmes,
waiting for his reaction. He sat very silently, but paid close attention.
"No, it is not wicked of you. You accepted the choices he had made
for himself, and lived with them the same as he. No one would expect more
than only what you could give."
Liz nodded once, noting that it must not be often that this man
comforted anyone, but that he still managed to do so in a very effective
Holmes now had some more information that he could base his
research on... that he could cross-check his theory on. He did indeed
have that question in mind when the tarot reading had started a few hours
Am I on the right track? he questioned himself again. Is
Moriarty behind this now, just as I thought he was then?
"My memory does not serve too much more, I fear." Liz continued
with a sigh. She had wracked it, but did not come up with much, although
the details of her own death grew ever clearer at she talked of her
father's lifestyle. "Wait, I... I recall something." It suddenly came to
her, all at once, like someone had just pulled the plug.
"Take your time...."
"No, I have it! I remember why I was coming to see you, now, the
day I died...." Liz's voice became slightly distant, as her mind once
again travelled that now dusty road to her past. Holmes leaned forward
intently. "I was coming to consult you! To ask you to personally
investigate my father's murder. I was ready, then, to tell what few
secrets I knew of his business and the events leading to his death... as
well as all I knew of his partner. I was so close to your doorstep when
they found me...."
"...And silenced you before you could share their secrets." Holmes
Liz nodded. It all fit together, now....
On to Part 3!
Back to Part 1.
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