Below the Orange antimacassar, it awaits: chapter 9!
Thank you for reading this and letting me know that you are reading this. The chapters that await include such things as temptations, (some thwarted, some yielded to,) and Holmes commenting on seminal media characters, including Percy Dovetonsils. Tell your friends.
Sherlock Holmes in Space -- The Knower -- Chapter 9
a story by jabney based on (the now public domain) characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
As we returned to our own, respectfully, re-created flat, Director Parrish said, "Once you experience our virtual replication of the fire scene, you may never want to return to the Parade of Homes again."
"Director, unless you have managed to replicate one certain docent, I think Watson here will manage to find reason upon reason for returning. He suddenly finds himself fascinated by the subject of remodeling." I was sitting in the back and I noticed that although Parrish laughed at the conclusion of the Sherlockian witticism, (at my expense), he seemed to wince at the mention of replicating the docent. Perhaps Mrs Parrish had pointed out his exuberance abut Dixie after all. I also recalled Doxy mentioning the repeat visitor to Dixie's pavilion. Perhaps the departee-to-be's motives were purer, or at least more fundamental, than Doxy seemed to suggest. I resolved to mention these observations to Holmes. When we had some privacy. But when would that be? And where?
I knew it wouldn't be at the flat that night. Cody, the time-line guardian and Edgar, the Knower were waiting as we arrived.
"Come in Edgar, Cody," said Holmes, "I believe you are in time for dinner. Director, will you join us?"
"Thanks but I've got to get home. The baby sprouted his first tooth today, and Mrs Parrish has some sort of celebration planned."
After we went upstairs and everybody was settled in, I said, "First tooth eh? Touching. I've seen that first-time parent behavior in many of my patients."
Edgar said, "First time? Try fifth, or is it sixth time Cody?"
"Depends on how you count the twins."
"And are twins especially esteemed, or dreaded, in this society?" said Sherlock Holmes.
"Excellent question Mr Holmes," said the Knower.
Cody said, "Yes, indeed. A good after-dinner topic. But let us make lighter conversation while we dine. Are you familiar with the language of the fan?"
"Do you mean the talk of a fanatical follower of a sports team," said Holmes, causing me to have to still the vibrate mode on my tri-fold, "Or the use of various positions and splays of the hand-held fan when carried by the ladies at, for example, Versailles?"
"The latter, Mr Holmes. They had scandalous things to say, a highly restricted atmosphere in which to say it, and yet managed to flirt outrageously. All through the language of the fan. Secretive. Somewhat like the vibrate mode on today's tri-folds, eh Dr Watson?"
I started to speak but managed only, "I, uh, that is we uh..."
Cody said, "Quite understandable. Since either a high-level security code or the intervention of a very low-level hacker is needed to over-ride the audible alarm, someone rather powerful has been involved with your tri-fold. I won't ask you who. By the way, did Director Parrish sound his siren when he gave you a ride today?"
Holmes, bless his soul, took over the conversation, and said, "Only when we rode in the vintage, what did he call it Watson, a "Crown Victoria?" when we went from the scene of a fire, at which I had collected as much information as conditions would permit, to a museum exhibit that Watson here found particularly interesting."
I felt my face flush and I soon gathered that I was not the only gentleman aboard the SS Oligarch impressed with at least one docent at the, "Parade of Homes."
Edgar said, "Let's see now, was it the lecture on the inappropriate use of granite counter-tops in the, "We just won the jackpot" patio, that won your heart, or the saddened description of the unfortunate deployment of downscale plastic laminate in the "Bored on a budget" half-bath?"
Cody said, "Ah, you've met Dixie the docent. The beautiful woman that husbands in an unhappy marriage actually take their wives to see. Seldom works out, though. I think the men are hoping that Miss Dixie's gracious ways will influence their spouses, while most of the women in that position see the face of a romantic rival."
"That position?" said Holmes.
"Those in unhappy wedlock, I think Cody means," said Edgar. "As he himself will tell you, he's something of an expert." Cody nodded ruefully.
"And you, Edgar?" said Sherlock Holmes.
"Alas, I'm an expert on the blissfully happy, sadly short sort of marriage," Edgar said, adding quickly, "Like uh JFK's and Jacquie's" as my tri-fold began to vibrate.
"I'm so sorry," said Holmes.
"Oh its been a long while. And the memories, short though they may be, have brightened the years ever since. Inspired me to become a Knower, in fact. At least that was one motivation. The other was the betrayal."
"I assume not her betrayal, based on the tender way you speak of her," Holmes said.
"No she never betrayed me, nor I her. But the knowledge of a deep betrayal saddened her last days. This vessel meant everything to Irene, that was her name. It was her world, as it is the world of everyone aboard, of course. But she saw a possibility beyond conveyance without adopting the views of the Destinarians..."
I interrupted Edgar, "Destinarians?"
Cody said, "They are the ones who have never unpacked. In a manner of speaking. My third wife joined them. Always talking about the new world. I used to tell her, "Let me know when we find one." That used to make her livid. But habitable worlds don't just pop into being because you fervently wish it were so."
"Destinarians I presume have a rival group?" said Holmes.
Edger said, "Used to be only the Pragmas, the ones who think of themselves as pragmatists determined to build a permanent society aboard ship; and of course the old-Earth religionists. You can probably guess their position from the name. The Pragmas keep running into the problem of mass and gravity on one hand, and the desire to reproduce and expand, on the other. The Transformarians split off from the Pragmas because Migdal, their prophet, taught that it should be possible to accumulate mass, find a toasty star and set up housekeeping as a new Earth in the goldilocks orbit of their choice."
I said, "But this vessel has so much space."
Edgar said, "Now Doctor, yes, but thanks to your kind, always finding ways to extend life, and the emulators of Sherlock Holmes, always seeking to extend justice and peace, human kind will find a way to expand. Given time. And we have time. So much time. For a seed vessel, an interior atmosphere should be sufficient. But a massive population needs an external environment. A planet large enough to attract and hold an atmosphere."
Cody said, "I don't think it's violating any time-line rules to tell both you gentlemen that hollow Earth theories are bunk. As Edgar said, mass and gravity. But since that fact is not, or will not have been universally acknowledged in your time, uh..."
"My lips shall be sealed on that subject, then,"
"Thank you Dr Watson," said Cody. "As an aside, let me apologize. I had hoped the time-line alarm would prove more useful than it has thus far, but I do believe your own common sense and a respect for the importance of the time-line is assurance enough."
"Watson can be trusted to be discreet about most matters, with the possible exception of magnifying my own efforts at times." Holmes says that sort of self-deprecating thing from time to time, and I am tempted, just once, to say I agree with him, but of course I don't. At least say it. Because I have observed, more than once, the man's uncanny ability to see beneath the surface of almost any issue. Consider what happened after we four had completed dinner and were relaxing over snifters of brandy. Holmes said, "I've learned some new expressions since we've arrived. At the risk of seeming indelicate, the cattle stampede droppings that Watson here almost stepped in, were they from the female representatives of the bovine herd, or the males?"
Edgar smiled and said, "An unusual question, Mr Holmes. May I ask what sort of clue that will provide?"
Holmes said, "A semantic one, I hope. If the droppings of the bovine female are referred to as, "Cow patties" then, in the language of the fan, to which you alluded earlier this evening, what is the equivalent for the cruder name for the leavings of the bovine male? Don't answer that, rather, answer this; why have Watson and I been presented with so much of it since we've arrived!"
"I beg your pardon!" said the time-line’s defender.
The Knower said, "He's right, Cody. We have already taken a risk with the time-line by bringing Dr Watson and his friend here to our time. We should not reject the additional benefits that may result when the secondary object starts to function as the main object indicated he would."
The silence that followed might have been less agonizing had it been interrupted by The Scream. How the face of Sherlock Holmes reacted I cannot say because I was engaged in a sudden and intense study of future carpet-weaving techniques. The voice of Sherlock Holmes, however, sounded reasoned, calm and slightly bemused. "You've made Watson blush. Do I need to be aware of the "main object's" mission?"
"You already are," said Cody, "You do, he writes."
"Gentlemen, I fear that Dr Watson's self-effacing way of relating the particulars of our adventures has finally caught up with him. Watson, have I not said..."
"I know Holmes. You've said I emphasize your role to excess. But I don't think I do. Readers would not be interested in me, not when there's a Sherlock Holmes around. History will remember Sherlock Holmes."
"And history will remember Dr John Watson also," said the Knower. "Cody, tell Dr Watson he may disregard the damned time-line monitor for a moment. I've been wanting to tell Dr Watson something ever since I learned of it."
"Yes Edgar, you've told me, more than once," Cody said with a sigh, and then addressing me directly said, "Please don't let what you are about to hear cause you to change your style. Go ahead Edgar."
The Knower looked at me with the sort of expression a doting uncle might have on his face on Boxing Day as his gift was taken from beneath the tree and handed to an eager nephew. He said, "As you might imagine, the name of Sherlock Holmes has graced many a marquee in the years following your respective demises."
"Thanks to your telling of the tales, Watson," said Holmes.
"Yes," said Edgar, "Beyond that, in at least one culture, your stories were dramatized under a title which translates roughly as, "The Adventures of Holmes and Watson." I'll not say any more about the particulars, Doctor. But I did want to tell you."
"Thank you," I managed to say and promptly excused myself. As I left, I noticed that all three men were smiling. I reached a mirror and noticed that I was smiling too.