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Sherlock Holmes (RDJ) Fanfic: The Contraption (JWP 2014 #17) - CaffieneKittySpace
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Sherlock Holmes (RDJ) Fanfic: The Contraption (JWP 2014 #17)
Title: The Contraption
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes (Downey films)
Alternate Postings: At AO3
Rating/Content: PG13, public calamity, mayhem, Science!, first person POV John Watson, Post "Game of Shadows"
Warnings: none
Word Count: 1530
Disclaimer: Not my characters or my world.
Notes: Written for watsons_woes July Writing Prompt #17: Truth is stranger than: Use one of these [Victorian Strangeness] articles as your inspiration for today's work. I chose this one (contains story spoilers), though I might have gone a little sideways with it. This is also my first time writing fanfic for this particular Holmesian iteration. I hope it's not unrecognizable and apologies in advance for any anachronisms.

Summary: "Be at 221B by 3 o'clock precisely tomorrow afternoon and you shall see something."

The Contraption

It had been five years since I had last shared quarters with Sherlock Holmes, and four years since his brief demise. We had collaborated and shared adventures many times since, of course - once I forgave him - but his missive calling me to 221B on this occasion was cryptic, saying only to be present at a specified time to see something.

Mrs Hudson smiled tightly and showed me unnecessarily up the familiar seventeen steps.

"I've no idea what you'll find when you go through that door, Doctor Watson. He refuses to allow me in, even to clean," she murmured, glancing with concern at Holmes' door and the tea tray outside it. "There was an incessant banging of metal for days, and then just the past evening, a sulfurous stench."

"Sulfur," I said noncommittally, quite aware of the vast number of things Holmes could get up to when left to himself.

"A stink as great as from the very pits of Hell. It's milder this afternoon."

"Hm." Now that it had been mentioned, the odour of rotting eggs was clear, as well as a slightly increased scent of gunpowder over the usual scent to be found in these rooms. No doubt another of Holmes' scientific diversions, but there were innocents on the premises to be concerned about. "And Gladstone?"

"Below stairs with me, for a time." Mrs Hudson stooped and gathered the tea tray from beside the door, nodding toward it. "I don't know what himself's up to in there, but it evidently doesn't require a living test subject."

I wasn't certain whether that made the situation more or less worrisome. "I'll see if I can't get him to keep the noise and smell at a more reasonable level."

Mrs Hudson let out a startling full-throated laugh. "Oh, you are a treasure, Doctor Watson. Thank you for your consideration, but you and I both know he'll not be changed of his ways. Not for God, man, nor beast."

From inside the room Holmes' voice called out: "If you're going to conspire about me, Nanny, kindly do it behind my back rather than outside my door!"

Mrs Hudson sighed. "Best of luck to you, Doctor Watson," she said as she descended the stairs with the tea tray.

I smiled and nodded at her no doubt futile well-wishes before opening Holmes' door.

The room was muchly in its usual state of clutter and disarray, but with a singular new addition. A great metal tube supported by a pair of crude sawhorses. I wondered if this was the 'something' Holmes had meant me to see. Holmes himself stood beside it, covered in soot and scorch marks.

"Ah, Watson, excellent! Take hold of one end of this, I am about to initiate phase two!" He gripped the metal tube around one end.

"And good afternoon to you as well," I said with some acidity.

"Mm?" He looked up at me and then rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes, fine, how are you, I trust Mary is faring well, lovely weather indeed, how about that recent local sporting event, now will you please take hold of the other end of this and assist me in carrying it out to the street? The cab will not wait long."

Bowing to the inevitable, I sighed and took a position at the other end, which I noticed came to a point. A rough handle stuck out from either side of the tube just below the point.

"What is this thing, Holmes?"

"It is something which must be taken downstairs and loaded onto the cab which arrived moments ago, as arranged yesterday. He will wait no more than a minute though, so we must hurry." He glanced over his shoulder at me as he lifted his end of the tube off the sawhorse and grinned, eyes twinkling. "You will see what it is soon, I did promise you that."

With a sigh I hefted my end and carried on after Holmes, familiarly unenlightened in service of Holmes' need for drama.

We carried the tube down around the staircase and out the front door to the waiting cab, and loaded it on the top; "Pointed end to the front if you please, Doctor Watson. Mrs Hudson, fetch some stout rope."

As I secured the object to the top of the carriage, threading the rope through the handles so it would not roll off in transit, Holmes came to some arrangement with the cabbie. He handed the man a sheaf of notes; the cabbie tucked the notes away, came to the front of the carriage and began unhitching his horse.

"Holmes?" Tube secured - though the likelihood of it being carried anywhere on a carriage with no horse seemed minimal - I jumped down to watch the cabbie draw the horse away and back from his cab.

"Now, Watson, behold! I have innovated a method by which a carriage can be made to go at an unheard of velocity, without need of horses." With great dramatic flare he struck a match and applied the flame to something hidden inside the base of the tube, which flashed and spat with a too-familiar odour.

I looked at the tube again with new insight and a frisson of horror dawning. "Holmes, is this some sort of... a giant firework?"

"Of a sort, yes."

I barely had a chance to say, "Oh," before sparks shot from the open end of the tube and the carriage began quickly accelerating up Baker Street.

I looked at Holmes to find him grinning at me for a spilt second before he hared off after the carriage. With an oath I ran after him, leaving the cabbie behind us, cursing most foully as he tried to control his panicked horse.

We had no hope of catching the flying carriage as the firework atop it shot it northward along Baker Street. It rattled over the road, flames and sparks shooting from the metal tube we'd affixed to the top. I shouted a futile warning as it sped through the intersection with Park Road. It caused ferocious chaos, but miraculously struck neither cart nor pedestrian traffic before disappearing from view in the mayhem it left behind.

Plotting its trajectory in my head on the run, I noted that if unimpeded it would fly onto the Outer Circle and from there directly into Regent's Park. While getting Holmes' contraption off the busy streets would seem an excellent plan, it was a fine spring day; the park would be far from unpopulated. The elderly, young lovers courting, families with small children....

Far ahead I caught another glimpse of the flaring firework contrasting against the green of the Park's trees and a dread fear came over me.

"Holmes!" I cried with sudden concern at the racing madman far in front of me. "Will this bloody thing of yours explode!?"

I was unsure if he had heard my shout or not as we crossed the havoc of the Park Road intersection ourselves, but his laughter carried back to me. I cursed and redoubled my speed.

We ran on, over the Outer Circle intersection and directly into the Park over the section of low wall the flame-belching behemoth had flattened. I cast up a quick yet belated prayer no one would be hurt by Holmes' contraption. Shouts and screams had followed us along its path, but they were on the whole cries of outrage and confusion, not pain.

"Wheel!" Holmes shouted as we passed between the trees, pointing off to the right. I looked as I ran and saw a detached carriage wheel rolling gaily across the greensward. Strollers on afternoon constitutional walks had taken to a run, and startled geese flew up in cacophony. Several children intently chased after the wheel, their shrill cries more delight at the spectacle than terror.

Holmes stopped short at the edge of the boating lake with myself close on his heels. As I ran up beside him, I could hear the distant shrill of police whistles rising over the general discord.

Steam rose where the contraption had run into the waters, submerging the firework without explosion. The rest of the carriage had evidently flown apart on impact; sections of wood floated in the lake, bobbing on the waves from the carriage's landing. Disturbed boaters attempted to navigate the sudden squall of waves and flotsam on the usually placid lake.

"You will need to replace that cabbie's carriage, you do realise, Holmes?"

Holmes waved a hand dismissively. "This is part of a speculative project for Mycroft. He'll see to the cabbie's compensation. He shall have a handsome new hansom."

I cast a glance around; several enraged and distressed faces in the gathering crowd, but it seemed that no one had been hurt in the calamity. I set to enjoying what brief amusement was possible from the situation before the annoying task of dealing with the constabulary, the irate cabbie, and the inconvenienced public fell to me as usual, once again smoothing the turbulent wake my friend left when he interacted with the world.

"I can't say as I think much of your new mode of transport, Holmes," I said dryly, watching the pandemonium in Regent's Park.

Holmes hummed and clasped his hands behind him. "Yes, well, perhaps a more durable passenger compartment is desirable. There is however no denying it travelled much faster than it would have if drawn by horses."

"No denying it indeed."

(that's all)

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3 comments or Leave a comment
monkeybard From: monkeybard Date: July 19th, 2014 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
About the time the tied it on top of the cab, I began having visions of the JATO rocket car from MythBusters. ... I was not disappointed. ;-D Very fun!
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: July 19th, 2014 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
*looks up on YouTube* Holmes's rocket wasn't as powerful and the streets were mostly level, but yeah, something like that. XD

Edited at 2014-07-19 01:24 am (UTC)
gardnerhill From: gardnerhill Date: July 19th, 2014 04:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Considering that the very first episode of Mythbusters could well have been "The Hound of the Baskervilles," I think you're on to something there.
3 comments or Leave a comment