Holmes, who had been sitting on his stool, wiping down the blade, placed the weapon aside, looking more directly at me as he registered the newer form of debate unfolding. Placing his hands under his chin and resting his elbows on the frayed blue denim jeans that covered his bony knees, he leaned forward.
“A certain selection of discretion must be used in producing a realistic effect,” he said. His gaze then moved to another blade in need of his administrations. “More stress is laid, perhaps, upon the survival of the living, than upon the details, which to an observer contain the vital essence of the whole matter.”
He stood with the newly cleaned knife and placed it in the sheath that hung on the back of his wooden chair. Holmes’ back was to me as he took another piece of wood, which at one point could have been a comprising part of a bed frame, and put it into the fire. He reached to the floor and picked up another blade that glistened with coagulated blood and brain matter. The remains, that were no more than an hour old, sizzled and popped like any meat would on an open flame. The smell that had been off putting to the both of us, when we first began the sanitizing process, now held significant meaning to us, telling us that one more of the unnatural public was no longer haunting Baker Street.
He said, rather sullenly, “Depend upon it my friend; there is nothing as unnatural as the commonplace.” I took this to be an admission that the life we lead now a days would indeed be unnatural to the years before that first up-spring of the dead.
I did not wait for him to turn, as I expected that it was time for my opinion on the subject to be stated, as was common in our methodical debates.
“I can quite understand you thinking so, as the unofficial zombie death dealer on Baker’s Street, and helper to everybody who is absolutely puzzled, throughout the Marylebone district, and Westminster itself, if not London.” I said pointing out his progress at effectively adapting to an apocalyptic scenario, admittedly, a hard thing to accomplish. He whom I had worried about in the past weeks, while I tended the injured living, had acclimated quicker than I had projected. I added my own opinion on his objective argument.
“Here,” I said, “Let us put it to a practical test.” The first report I glance at is the latest intelligence on the origin of the disease, “Found, husband eating wife’s face.” I say this in a factual tone, because this is no longer surprising. “I know without reading it, that it is perfectly familiar to me. I have treated the dying so often now that I can list the stages without a moment’s thought: At first, there is the onset peculiarity of behavior; then the prolonged suffering of fever and violent vomiting; the lack of appetite, as the patient starves to death; and the last breath; then the unsurprising resurrection of said dead. Have I missed anything?” I said to Holmes as I returned my attention to the man, while I was before, preoccupied with my own recitation of my knowledge base.
I looked up to find him contemplating the sharpness his blade. Still staring at the shine from the fireplace, he held out his hand. It was such a familiar gesture now, and I did what only came naturally to me. I immediately handed over the piece of paper. He took the paper and without any surprise on my part, began to shred the paper with the blade. The surprise came at the slight hitch the blade gave half way through the paper. Rather than going straight down, the blade stuck and curved off to the left. The crescent shape reminisces of the paper cause Holmes to frown.
He looked at the blade in rapt study, “You would think that their bones would be soft from decomposition, wouldn’t you Watson?” He stepped back toward the mantle, and took out the wet-stone. The grating sound of metal on the finely grained surface had always put my teeth on edge.
The last question, being rhetorical, I picked up the pieces of the shredded pamphlet and threw it in the scrap heap with would later be used to start up a new fire, if the fire currently occupying the fire place, ever burnt out. Then I sat down on my stool and waited for Sherlock to give his rebuttal on the subject of the attack documented in the pamphlet. He took a breath and then punctuated the disturbed silence with the grating of the whetstone.
“Indeed your example is an unfortunate one for your argument,” was the way he began his rebuttal. “I am familiar with the case and know that the husband in question, showed very little signs of infection at the beginning. There was no drastic change in behavior, nor was there much prolonged suffering.”
He paused looking at me with a pedantic form of chastisement, “which excuses why this first case took so long to be entered into the present documentation,” he then nodded at the scraps. I of course took no insult to the tone of his voice or his countenance as it was a very familiar form in which these discussions were held.
He continued with further proof of his educated perspective, “The wife had been crying at the man’s bedside, which shows more of an emotional attachment in the matrimonial sense. She was not cooking in the kitchen or hanging laundry, though being of a lesser class those were her expected duties.”
He paused in his reflection, adding a personal note within the listing of facts, “The couple seemed to have held a life of considerably equal respect for one another. These facts do reflect that they also led a life in which emotions of fondness were a part of the relationship.” His eyes were slightly glazed at this reflection, probably remembering that long Irene Adler he had been fond of himself once. I being the only other person to know some of the details in that relationship, still hoped that she would turn up some time soon, as there had been very little contact between the two of them after the illness struck London.
-To Be Continued-
Editors Note: Linda K. Strahl graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Lewis University. She is currently a volunteer poetry editor for Jet Fuel Review, as it is the catalyst to her ongoing pursuit to join the publishing field. To keep her writing fresh she is currently working on integrating old classics with more present superstitions and fads, while also keeping her own word journal, and Evernote app on hand. To keep her finger dexterity, she knits, and practices piano.