General Fiction posted May 13, 2022

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Sherlock Holmes returns from the dead.

The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes

by Wayne Fowler

“My dear Watson.  Yes, yes, yes. It is I. As I have missed you, my good man. As I have missed you. Now, have you perchance come across the wizard, Merlin? My inquiries have revealed that he has been about, quite busily about.”
“Sherlock!” Dr. Watson exclaimed. “I saw to it that a plaque was installed above the falls, the Reichenbach Falls. It commemorates your death. How …?”
Holmes dismissed the details of his demise with a wave of his hand.
“I mean to say, our author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ….”
“You may drop the honorific so ascribed our chronicler,” Sherlock spat. “Undeserving. Aye, he developed me, he did. His property. And so have I benefitted, using the reputation to hire out during my brief existence, keeping quite engaged. But after ten major works and all the shorter pieces, he offered every impression that the character should be sustained in perpetuity. And not unceremoniously killed because the wordsmith was bored. Killed by an undeveloped adversay, Professor Moriarty, as whisper thin as the pages of Holy Scripture, I shant say.”
“Indeed, my dear friend. Indeed. And for myself, as well. I live and breathe not knowing whether I am next. As easily tired he was of yourself, what of myself?  And written dead or not, unemployment has been my lot ever since he threw you into the drink,” Watson said.
“There we were, the morn of the first day, sitting by, awaiting opportunity to make ourselves useful.”
“And Doyle has me announcing your death without description, action, fanfare, nothing, simply penning the relevant facts as in my diary format. It was little wonder your performance was desultory, offering neither wit, nor science throughout. Doyle deserved neither.”
“Of Merlin?” Holmes repeated.
“We shall find him. The catacombs, I understand his type should be found, I dare say.”
“Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson,” the wizard said, greeting the duo. “I knew to expect you from the moment of our first Guild victory. None other was such a blow to our membership. Fully developed literary characters, once admitted to the Guild, have certain rights,” Merlin declared. “I dare say, a few more killed off characters and I may win the office of the Presidency of the Guild.”
“And I, after ten very successful missions, had every reason to believe in my invincibility,” Sherlock Holmes replied.
“Indeed,” Watson agreed. “Our votes will be yours, providing …”
“Your tribunal?” Merlin asked, assuming Holmes knew the routine.
“Yes, and none.”
Merlin’s expression obviated the question.
“I have every reason to believe that Arthur Conan Doyle, once apprised of the situation, will do the right thing. By his writings it is evident that …”
Dr. Watson interrupted Holmes, so often his literary voice. “Steel true, blade straight. That’s Arthur Conan Doyle. Himself a lifelong advocate for justice. We trust him to do justly.”
Merlin nodded. “Then let’s be on with it, shall we. We’ll soon enough learn whether your faith is misplaced.”
Instantly, the three stood about Doyle’s bedside, Merlin speaking to the sleeping author. “Sir Doyle,” Merlin began, “do not attempt to awaken, I have made that impossible. I am Merlin, the Wizard. With me are Sherlock Holmes, these years deceased, and a certain Dr. Watson. I’m sure you recognize them. We have come on a matter of great import.”
Believing that he was reading Merlin’s mind, Doyle bellowed in his sleep, his mind alert, his body near comatose. “That, sir, is my character! A product of my own hand! From his toes to his overlong fingers, from his sleepless behavior to his disarming wit and superior intelligence. Mine. I robbed neither Robert Stevenson of his Joe Bell, nor Edgar Poe of his Auguste Dupin. I had use of neither. Holmes, here, the far superior intellect and the more resourceful. I had no need of any other.” Doyle finally calmed himself, settling his breathing.
“Indeed, I am. Mr. Doyle,” Holmes agreed. “You are quite right. However, I have since, been admitted into the Guild …”
“Guild? What Guild?” I’ve engaged no …”
“Oh, but you have, Mr. Doyle,” Merlin said. “And should you like, I can parade dozens through your slumbering mind until they’ve fully trampled your spirit. Accept it as truth. Mr. Doyle. Our members hear your call, and respond of their own free will, offering their abundant experience in assisting you in your work. Have you not noticed how certain ones within your tales fill out your plot, thicken it with enrichments? Once a member, Sherlock Holmes lent himself to you, veritably signing a contract, agreeing to bring his fully developed character to your aid.”
Arthur Doyle’s chin raised and lowered ever so minutely. The three accepted his acquiescence.
“What thought ye, Sir Arthur,” Dr. Watson began, forgetting Sherlock’s protest of Doyle’s appellation. “Witnessing hullabaloo once The Final Problem was released? The black garb of the women, black arm bands worn by men. Did not The Strand Magazine inform you of their immediate cancellations?”
“Twenty thousand. They did. And yes to your questions. You see, in my defense: one, I knew nothing of your Guild. And two, I was unaware of Sherlock’s popularity. See, I, he, the character, the entire project was overwhelming my other work, my er, uh, more serious writing. I …”
“Did The Strand not agree to your outrageous monetary demand? And then did they not beg you to bring Holmes back?” Dr. Watson demanded.
“They did, all that. And I did. I wrote a posthumous book, The Hound of the Baskervilles.”
“But dead I remained,” Holmes said. “And not only that, in Baskervilles, my role was limited to a handful of scenes, and a mere pocketful of words, Dr. Watson carrying the load, the lion’s share, if I may.”
“True enough,” Doyle agreed. “True enough.
“Convinced, I am of wrongdoing. Of the wrong I have committed. Truth be, I’ve recurring thoughts on mysteries only Holmes can deduce. Tell me, what am I to do. How can justice be wrought?”
Merlin looked to both Watson and Holmes, a nodding half grin of understanding transmitted. “A work of retconning,” he said.
“Hmmm I’ve heard … do mean retrospective altering the …”
“Continuity,” Merlin finished for him. “Introduce new information, an air pocket, a mass of fish to cushion his fall, anything. We expect you then to re-develop Sherlock Holmes after you satisfactorily resurrect him.”
“Cheat, in other words. Unkill him. Convince the public that Holmes did not die, but survived by some credible means,” Watson said.
“I’ve already begun notes on just such a project,” Doyle exclaimed, grinning beneath his walrus mustache. “Holmes and Watson, themselves are invited to assist, assuming they will agree. The Adventures of the Empty House, I have preliminarily titled it.”
“With that, Sir Arthur, we will leave you to more pleasant dreams. Good night, sir.”
“Steel true, blade straight! Where-ever did you get such dribble?” Sherlock asked his friend, Dr. Watson, leaving him behind as he stretched his long legs up Baker Street.

The Literary Guild is an organization of literary characters. Once accepted into the Guild, members contract themselves to authors, actually applying in response to authors�¢?? unconscious character calls.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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