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Look out below!

"Below what?" you may ask.

Below the Orange antimacassar, of course. It's the next chapter of Sherlock Holmes in Space.

Sherlock Holmes in Space -- The Knower -- Chapter 22

a story by jabney based on (the now public domain) characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Holmes, would you mind telling me what that was all about."

"Watch the road, Watson! You can communicate through the helmet microphone without looking back at me."

"Sorry Holmes. I'm not used to having a passenger on a motorcycle. The bulk of my experience with tandem riding has been more that of being the passenger."

"Watson, I do believe you have spoken a metaphor. Especially considering that the first time you were on an actual motorcycle in any capacity at all was, what? the day before yesterday?"

"Something like that. Though to tell the truth Holmes, it seems as if I've been riding for years." As I said those words, a rather scrawny black and white cat barely missed our front tire as it scurried across the road.

"Remember Watson, what pride goeth before. And while on the subject of proverbs and aphorisms, remember the one about little pitchers and the appendages they boast?" This last, Holmes emphasized with a short rap of his knuckles against my helmet.

Truth be told, I thought to myself, this entire "People may overhear" mindset is blasted annoying. Holmes seems to think it is a game! Which, I suppose, is a healthy way to look at it. As for me, I say spies and snoops be damned. But then I am a time traveler, I won't have to stay around to put up with consequences. And I am starting to like these people. Most of them, at least. So I will play the game using Holmes's rules. But I do not have to like it.

"Holmes, we do need to talk privately," I said as we dismounted our electrified steed.

"Why Watson? The people I have invited to our little after-picnic get-together are people I have decided to trust. If that trust is to be betrayed, then I shall be the fool. If my trust is warranted, then we shall have gained some time in preparing to battle a most fearsome adversary."

"I suppose Holmes. But did you see the cold looks that Evan was giving the Captain? What do you think that's all about?"

"Why don't you ask me?" said an amused sounding voice from behind that quite startled me. As I fumbled for an apology, Holmes spoke up.

"Evan, there is no need for Watson and I to delve into the details of a strong friendship which is undergoing a mild test. I am quite certain that Captain Haggard has noticed, and has picked up on your message."

Evan said, "It was that obvious? Perhaps the drama critic that accused me of  "Over-acting that would have embarrassed a canned ham" had a valid point."

"You act?" I said, grateful for the chance to change the subject.

"Amateur theatrics only, Dr Watson. I played, Og the leprechaun in "Finian's Rainbow." And yes, Mr Holmes, your analysis of the situation between Captain Haggard and myself is essentially correct."

"Essentially?"

"Yes Mr Holmes. I fear there may, though, be a need to revisit certain incidences that the Captain would prefer had remained private."

"We shall see Evan. In the meantime Watson and I shall try to continue to avoid drawing attention to the important role that you actually do play. You learned the value of being underestimated from Otis Ferg, I suppose?"

"Yes, Otis for one. But also from Control, and from you. Both of you."

I felt myself blush. I saw Holmes blush. This was made plain in the glow of the headlights of the ROADMASTER which pulled up to the curb somewhat behind us.

At the same time, Otis Ferg pulled up on his motorcycle and parked in front of us.

"You've got your brights on!" Otis shouted to the unseen inhabitants of the automobile. "A Buick Roadmaster on a spaceship," he said in an aside to Holmes, Evan and me, "Doxy's got some nerve taking it out of the Parade of Homes install. Even if the gasoline engine has been replaced by an electric one."

Doxy emerged from the driver's door then Captain Haggard got out of the other front door. "There's your nerve, Otis," Holmes said gesturing toward the Captain. "Having an authority figure as a passenger tends to bolster a person's courage."

Captain Haggard spoke loudly, "Save the talk for inside please, we could use some help unloading the trunk. Doxy it looks as if you've packed enough vintage computer gear and hi-fi equipment to start a branch of the museum. Careful or the SIT will accuse you of trying to do a turf-grab."

"I can imagine the movie poster," Otis said with a laugh, "The Day of the Docents!"

Evan said, "I don't know. Hi-fi gear from the 1950's and 60's, computer equipment from, what, the 1980's and 90's? I hope we have enough adapters. Otherwise the poster will have to read, "Plan 9.01 From Outer Space."

"Faith dear boy, faith," said Doxy, "This is how our ancestors, and your generation's descendants, of course, Mr Holmes and Dr Watson, had to make do before tri-folds and centralized storage. I can hook this up with my eyes closed."

Several trips up the stairs later, after some degree of jury-rigging on Doxy's open-eyed part and some improvisations contributed by Evan, Otis announced, "My friends, behold, sound and images totally untethered to the OMFS."

"That's the Old MacDonald's Server Farm, right?" I said. "What do the letters actually stand for?"

"We don't know, it's what the largest symbols on the device sort of look like," said Otis, "The SIT may know, but if they do, they aren't telling."

"Seems strange to me," I said, "Why not take what you have determined about The Scream to this Scientific Integrity Team and have a sit-down with them? Share what you know."

"Because Dr Watson, the penalties for whistle-blowing are far worse than enduring The Scream, especially if 'untrustworthy' musical sampling equipment is involved." said Doxy. "I can skate-by because I'm a docent with a specialization in archaic electronics."

"Untrustworthy, meaning any recording done by a device that is not connected to the OMFS, I presume."

"Correct, Mr Holmes," said Captain Haggard, who was now seated at one end of the sofa. "Now let me ask you a question, is there a reason why Jerome, the only black man in our small group wasn't invited?"

"And what about the ladies, Holmes? Times have evolved, you know." At my statement, Captain Haggard and Evan both coughed and appeared to be stifling laughter.

Before I could ask them why, Holmes said, "I am keenly aware of the talents of Jerome and Control. That's why I've tasked Control with the mission of brokering a peace-treaty between Jerome and Dixie, another potentially vital member of our team. I'm not sure why Jerome seems so antagonistic towards her, though. Is there a history between them Otis?"

"Not a personal history, Mr Holmes, rather a cultural history. The name, "Dixie" has baggage attached to it, even now." Otis then went on to expound at some length on minstrelsy, The Confederacy, and the civil rights movement.

"Well," I said, "I'm sure Dixie didn't mean to adopt the name out of spite to any particular group."

"You're smitten with her, Watson, but even so, I'm sure you are correct."

Doxy said, "Actually it was the next docent name available after Dexy."

"I suppose somewhere in the Parade of Homes there is a Docent named Duxy, then?"

"Oh yes, Mr Holmes. Poor thing."

"OK," said Evan, "But what about Yvonne? Doesn't she have something to contribute?"

"Not at this time," said Holmes. "She would be an impediment, I fear."

"Why, Holmes?"

"Two reasons, Watson. One is her insistence on orthodoxy, despite seeing evidence to the contrary. As for the other..." At this, Holmes looked keenly at Evan and then at Captain Haggard."

"Because I used to be the other woman in Evan's life," said Captain Haggard.

"But you are a man," I said. "How could... Oh."

"Not nearly as simple as that, Dr Watson," said the Captain, "I used to be a woman. And before that I was a man."

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

    by jabney on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:00:06 PM PST

  •  I'm less than halfway through this diary, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, Aunt Pat, cfk, Louisiana 1976

    but I feel a need
    to give you positive feedback,
    right now.

     You learned the value of being underestimated from Otis Ferg, I suppose?"

    "Yes, Otis for one. But also from Control, and from you. Both of you."  

     

    I'm certainly a fan of Sir Arthur's
    originally serialized
    Sherlock Holmes stories.

    And I'm so glad
    the copyright has run out,
    so I can read them all at will,
    online.

    And so you can use the timeless characters,
    as standard and useful
    as any team in fiction.

    However,
    one feature of Watson and Holmes
    that used to get me down,
    was the idea that Watson
    never seemed to shine as smart,
    in any useful way.

    Holmes was always such a savant,
    and Watson was caught looking on,
    amazed.

    But in that one line,
    you revealed a Watson
    who keeps himself underestimated,
    and a Homes who does likewise.

    I like that.

    And I like them both blushing.

    You can now blush,
    since you are doing the same,
    keeping yourself underestimated.

    I work very hard,
    at my job,
    working at a Walmart store
    (a lot of hate Walmart at Daily Kos,
    but when you need a job,
    and you have no professional skill or ambition,
    you get a job where the jobs are.)
    I work very hard,
    and some of the bosses
    think I'm a really great worker.

    But I was fired from OfficeMax
    after fifteen years,
    so I'm always thinking,
    I hope the bosses
    don't start looking for reasons to fire me,
    because they can certainly find them.

    I constantly underestimate
    myself,
    and say nothing
    at all
    to brag.

    That's why I like that line of dialogue.

    •  Thanks - Blush (4+ / 0-)

      The character that learned from Holmes and Watson is named, Evan. The reader first meets Evan when he's on dog walking duty at the Smiley Grill (located in the basement of the Sir Alec Guinness - home to a very popular disco on its second floor) holding a leash which is being pulled by Sparky - a most decidedly non-purebred hound.

      And Holmes adds Evan to the list of invitees seemingly as an afterthought at the end of chapter 21. But really, how many of Holmes's actions that seem like afterthoughts are truly afterthoughts. To add to the complications, Holmes and Watson are in a future world that they helped shape - including actions that they will be taking in their primary future, but that are in the other characters' pasts.

      best,

      john  

      Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

      by jabney on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 06:09:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Alright, I finished reading it. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, Aunt Pat, cfk, Louisiana 1976

    It moves slowly through the story,
    but it's only a few pages.

    My wife reads very fast,
    and if she were in my situation,
    she'd be done reading all these installments,
    from since June.

    I read slowly,
    wanting to savor each word.

    I like the props,
    the hi-fi equipment
    from the fifties and sixties,
    my childhood years,
    and early home computers,
    from my thirties.

    Feels good.

    The trans gender twist
    makes the plot interesting.

  •  I just read chapter 21. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, cfk, Louisiana 1976

    I somehow missed
    what  Holmes was saying
    to the computer people,
    two plus two is five,
    but no,
    Santa Clause...
    does not exist?

    Computers do not work magic,
    with no mistakes?

    I don't quite get it,
    however:

    I admire the smooth,
    easy flow of the dialogue,
    as if you have a real time machine,
    and Watson and Homes are real,
    and you're simply recording real spoken words,
    and transcribing them for us.

    Maybe I should write a science fiction story,
    about a science fiction writer,
    who is doing just that.

    And he still has trouble
    getting published.

    Nice work.

    •  Thanks for the Feedback (3+ / 0-)

      As I said in one comment recently, the next step will be to edit, edit and then edit some more. When something is unclear to the reader, it means I have to figure out a clearer way of presenting it (or to change it altogether). Fortunately, some of those changes can be as simple as adding a word or two, or subtracting, or changing.

      It may even be a matter of punctuation or using a device you seem to have a good feel for - line-breaks. (By the way, The New Revised Standard Bible as published by Oxford University Press would probably delight you. The lines seem to be placed deliberately but not arbitrarily. A typesetting tour de force.)

      best,

      john

      Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

      by jabney on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 07:13:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes! You are beginning to see! (0+ / 0-)

        I simply hit the enter key,
        when I want the reader to pause.

        I'm forcing the reader to pause,
        since the reader must move the eyes
        down and left.

        I've spent some years,
        simply racking my brain
        for any other trick of wording,
        arranging phrases,
        re-working sentences,
        to be certain the reader
        understands me.

        I think you're doing well.

        I haven't read enough of your chapters
        to get the flow of the story.

        But I do encourage you
        to edit your work
        if you feel it needs it.

        Here is something
        that needs editing:

         A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.  
         

        Here is my edit:

         Because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the federal government will not put any restrictions on the people's possession of weapons, or threatening the federal government with those weapons.  
         

        Not saying I like that amendment,
        but I'm pretty sure
        that's what they meant.

        And the first amendment
        is all about
        griping
        about the federal government.

        Just to give you ideas
        on how I like to clarify things.

    •  Well said! (3+ / 0-)

      I have enjoyed this story for the very reasons you list.

      Tonight, I am worried because of this (very scary when Holmes says something like this considering all he has tackled before):

      If my trust is warranted, then we shall have gained some time in preparing to battle a most fearsome adversary."
      This is confusing to me, but I will just go with the flow and watch for more:
      To add to the complications, Holmes and Watson are in a future world that they helped shape - including actions that they will be taking in their primary future, but that are in the other characters' pasts.

      Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 07:17:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Holmes Still Has Some Surprises (3+ / 0-)

        Both to give and to receive.

        This is confusing to me, but I will just go with the flow and watch for more:
        To add to the complications, Holmes and Watson are in a future world that they helped shape - including actions that they will be taking in their primary future, but that are in the other characters' pasts.
        Since this isn't in the canon of my story (yet) I'll just say as a way of thinking out loud (so to speak): Holmes and Watson - being in the macro future temporarily - have two sets of futures. The secondary future for them is what will happen on The SS Oligarch tomorrow and the day after, etc. But the primary future for those two characters - assuming they get back to their starting point unscathed - will be in Edwardian and post-Edwardian London.

        Thank you so much cfk for your continuing words of encouragement. I appreciate it very much. Ans thanks to you who rec and tip too. It means a lot.

        best,

        john

        Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

        by jabney on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 07:37:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am going to copy your answer down (3+ / 0-)

          to keep as I read...thanks.  I sort of understand it and I definitely understand the threat..."assuming they get back to their starting point"...yikes!!

          That is the main threat in all the time travel stories.  And even if Holmes is not allowed to remember...will there be residual changes in him anyway as a result of his experience, is a question I ask.  This kind of thing bends my mind a bit, but it is good.  :)

          Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

          by cfk on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 07:42:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Reading About Time Travel Can be Confusing (3+ / 0-)

            So can writing about it.

            I can sort of see why China has outlawed it.

            Sort of.

            But future time travel is less confusing than time travel to the past. Unless, of course, one allows for an unlimited number of parallel universes. Each one created by a choice.

            best,

            john

            Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

            by jabney on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 08:08:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  About time travel. First, the idea of China (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jabney, cfk

              prohibiting time travel stories....

              I simply don't understand that.

              As for travelling forward in time,
              then back to "home" time,
              I suppose I see why you say that's simpler
              than the other way around.

              But if,
              when going back "home",
              you go back to a time
              earlier than the time when you left
              to go to the future,
              you have gone back in time,
              and you still must allow for
              unlimited
              parallel
              universes.

              I once read a short story
              that pointed out
              that there might be
              parallel universes,
              anyway,
              without time travel.

              I think
              the universe
              does not have any parallels,
              and,
              therefore,
              there can be no time travel.

              Other than the one way trip
              we are all taking,
              into the future.

              And we do,
              from our subjective view,
              jump ahead,
              each time we sleep.

              By the way,
              I generally hate time travel stories,
              but yours is like
              a Connecticut Yankee
              in King Arthur's Court,
              and I like that.

              But yours is reversed,
              Sherlock Holmes
              working with computers
              and space ships,
              and electric cars.

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