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Enclosed (Sherlock)

Title: Enclosed
Author: Morgan Stuart
Fandom: Sherlock
Disclaimer: This universe does not belong to me; I'm just an appreciative visitor. I make no profit from this fan work.
Description: Sherlock receives a mysterious envelope. With enclosures. And a demand.
Historian's Note: This takes place after (and refers to) the Sherlock episode "The Great Game."




Mrs. Hudson found the envelope marked "Sherlock Holmes" propped against the front door when she returned from her shopping. Minutes later it was in the consulting detective's hands. He studied the quality of the stationery, the seal of the flap, the mechanics of the handwriting, the properties of the ink.

He opened it with gloved fingers, as attentive as if it were a crime scene.

The front of the card carried no words or images. It was embossed with a common geometric design. Unremarkable. Uninformative.

On the inside, the card held three evenly spaced locks of short hair, each secured to the paper with a narrow strip of transparent tape.

The fine strands of the first lock shone a chestnut so deep that in certain lights it might be mistaken for black. A hue preserved chemically, to be certain. A minor concession to vanity. But understated and tasteful enough to be elegant, all the same.

Thicker than the first, the second lock showed rich chocolate strands at different stages of surrender to a glistening silver. The hairs bristled against the confines of the tape, but they fanned out with surprising grace when he brushed them with a fingertip.

The third lock comprised light brown strands burnished to the colour of antique gold. Despite their clipped length, a few stubbornly tried to curl. One lone grey hair shimmered amidst its neighbors as Sherlock tilted the card for closer inspection.

He knew the scent of each lock even before he inhaled: the refined hint of cologne, the traditional spice of aftershave, the clean note of shampoo. Instantly recognizable.

Centered below the three, penned in a bold and deliberate hand, sat a single word:

CHOOSE.

Moriarty hadn't signed his name.


THE END

Note 1: "Imagined" can be read as a companion sketch or as a standalone piece.

Note 2: See a "sequel" comic that was requested by fantasysci5 and drawn by Mychelangela here: "Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe."

Vital Stats: Originally written in December 2010.

Comments

( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
morganstuart
Jan. 12th, 2011 01:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I really appreciate it. And you're quite right: I was thinking Mycroft, Lestrade, and John here.

I'm so glad it seemed properly spooky to you! *hugs*
goldvermilion87
Jan. 12th, 2011 12:12 pm (UTC)
ACK! Very Very scary stuff!

And well written, in my humble opinion. :-)
morganstuart
Jan. 12th, 2011 01:43 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much! What a lovely thing to say. I really appreciate it.

I think having to choose between Mycroft, Lestrade, and John would be much too horrible to contemplate. Moriarty is one very scary guy!

Edited at 2011-01-12 01:44 pm (UTC)
goldvermilion87
Jan. 12th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
I sort of think Sherlock of series one would pick John (to live) without question, because while I think the final moments of the Great Game show us that he has hope of becoming a good man, it's only the beginning, and he still is fundamentally selfish. (And I think that Sherlock definitely wants John around more than he wants Mycroft or Lestrade.) But that is just my interpretation...and who knows what the next season will bring. :-D
morganstuart
Jan. 12th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
I definitely think that you're right, and that his choice would be John, for the very reasons you've described so well.

It might take a while for him to realize how important the other two are/were: Mycroft as his past/family (and, let's face it, source of funding, too, most likely), and Lestrade as his work/passion (because the only one who'll work with him and give him access to crime scenes is Lestrade). And I'm not sure John, good man that he is, could live with the idea that he was chosen over the others, either. *shudders*

I can't wait to see what the next season brings!
fantasysci5
Jan. 28th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
THIS so much! John would have bad survivor's guilt, and Sherlock would miss Mycroft and Lestrade letting him into scenes. :'(
morganstuart
Jan. 28th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
Yes! I can't imagine what it would do to poor John, knowing the others had been sacrificed for him. *shudders*
noirrosaleen
Feb. 7th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
Worse idea: the one chosen dies. 0.0
morganstuart
Feb. 7th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
Exactly! Because Moriarty didn't specify for what ends, exactly, Sherlock was doing the choosing...
cyranothe2nd
Jan. 23rd, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
Chilling. Well done!
morganstuart
Jan. 24th, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
stellary
Jan. 24th, 2011 03:52 am (UTC)

Just saw this.
You are clearly very good at doing chilling - all three of your fics have that element. While I tend to be drawn to fluffy and humorous, anything that's well-done gets my hearty vote.
morganstuart
Jan. 24th, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much!
quirkies
Jan. 26th, 2011 06:28 am (UTC)
Chilling! Loved the level of detail, the fact that I can see this unfolding as if in an episode makes it even scarier.
morganstuart
Jan. 26th, 2011 11:26 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad it worked for you. I appreciate the feedback.
shefa
Apr. 5th, 2011 02:20 am (UTC)
*shivers

Oh, my. The cost of becoming attached. Poor Sherlock.

Well done...
morganstuart
Apr. 5th, 2011 10:32 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I was aiming for shivers, so I'm glad this delivered some.
bk7brokemybrain
Apr. 27th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)
Ohmehgah! Choose for what?? To live or die? Yikes. EVIL.
I can see Sherlock refusing to play, just like with the cabbie (well at first he refused, hee!). Go right outside that box and find another way.
I love how short this was. Delivered quite an O. Henry-esque punch.
morganstuart
Apr. 27th, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked the length of this. It was an experiment of sorts.

Moriarty's mind game is so very evil. Even if Sherlock could choose, what is he choosing the man for: to be the sole survivor or the sacrificial lamb? I agree with you when you say Sherlock would find a way not to have to make a decision at all; I would hope that would be what would happen.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Edited at 2011-05-03 10:35 pm (UTC)
2ndskin
May. 11th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
oh my lord. had not read this and you linked to it and . . . oh dear. I love the total sensory nature of this story. REALLY LOVE IT. from the gloved hand to the card design to the look of each lock of hair and then the feel, and THEN--smell. Quite scary and quite effective.
morganstuart
May. 12th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! This really thrills me, as I really was trying to capture that full sensory experience of how Sherlock might go about his observations, and I was hoping the identities of the men would come through in the descriptions alone. Thank you so much for reading and for leaving such encouraging feedback!
disassembly_rsn
Aug. 20th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
Re: Enclosed
Quite elegant - no wasted words at all for the maximum effect of messing with *everyone's* minds.

The obvious interpretation - choose one to live and Moriarty will kill the other two - is also, given the sender and recipient - not at all a safe interpretation to make. It reminds me of the cabbie's words in "A Study in Pink": Is it a bluff? Or a double bluff? Or a triple bluff?

Very well done.
morganstuart
Aug. 20th, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Enclosed
Oh, I'm so glad this worked, despite its brevity! Thank you for your kind words. I've written long stories, but I do find a lot of value at times in trying to rein myself in and be as streamlined as possible. It's wonderful to know this worked for you.

I definitely agree that we can make no assumptions here about the command to "Choose." As you say, it might mean choose who lives or choose who dies... and, knowing Moriarty, it might mean he simply wants to torment Sherlock, and Sherlock's decision will have no impact whatsoever on whether the three men survive or perish.

I did love the idea that Sherlock, who likes to think he's above "this caring lark," would identify these men instantly simply from locks of their hair. That speaks of familiarity and connection - and, I suspect, Moriarty knows it.

You're wonderfully generous to read and comment, and it means a lot to me. Thank you!
cuddles_and_jam
Oct. 16th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
So creepy, and so elegantly simple! A very Moriarty way to make a threat.
morganstuart
Oct. 17th, 2011 02:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you think so! Thanks so much. I appreciate it.
fanbot
Oct. 20th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
Chilling. Well done.
morganstuart
Oct. 20th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I really appreciate it.
zevbaldwin
Dec. 5th, 2011 03:05 am (UTC)
Scary. And great!
morganstuart
Dec. 5th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you think so! Thanks so much.
phiso_kun
Jun. 12th, 2012 08:23 am (UTC)
THIS IS SO SHORT AND YET PACKS SUCH A PUNCH

Brilliantly done. You are very, very good at horror. I like it.
morganstuart
Jun. 14th, 2012 07:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!!! This does my heart good. It was my very first Sherlock fic, so it holds a special place for me.

You are very, very good at horror.

*flails a bit and blushes* Oh, I am so grateful for your kindness and encouragement! (And, as a fan of horror, particularly tickled by this.) Thank you!

Edited at 2012-06-14 07:57 pm (UTC)
trishkafibble
Jul. 13th, 2012 03:10 am (UTC)
Ach, how fiendish!! What a subtle, rich vignette. I really must follow the links you've given--this is fully as tantalizing a situation as anything the series has produced!!
morganstuart
Jul. 14th, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you for this. This was my first writing in the Sherlock 'verse, and it's so wonderful to hear that you find it to be properly compelling. I'm most grateful for your generous words!
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )