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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:


Moriarty hadn't signed his name.


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.


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 12th, 2011 10:42 am (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*
Jan. 12th, 2011 09:12 am (UTC)
ACK! Very Very scary stuff!

And well written, in my humble opinion. :-)
Jan. 12th, 2011 10:43 am (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)
(no subject) - goldvermilion87 - Jan. 12th, 2011 11:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - morganstuart - Jan. 12th, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fantasysci5 - Jan. 27th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - morganstuart - Jan. 27th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - noirrosaleen - Feb. 6th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - morganstuart - Feb. 6th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 23rd, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
Chilling. Well done!
Jan. 23rd, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Jan. 24th, 2011 12:52 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.
Jan. 24th, 2011 10:11 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you so much!
Jan. 26th, 2011 03:28 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.
Jan. 26th, 2011 08:26 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad it worked for you. I appreciate the feedback.
Apr. 4th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC)

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

Well done...
Apr. 5th, 2011 06:32 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I was aiming for shivers, so I'm glad this delivered some.
Apr. 26th, 2011 09:03 pm (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.
Apr. 27th, 2011 10:24 am (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)
(Deleted comment)
May. 11th, 2011 08:56 pm (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!
Aug. 20th, 2011 07:35 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.
Aug. 20th, 2011 10:36 am (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!
Oct. 16th, 2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
So creepy, and so elegantly simple! A very Moriarty way to make a threat.
Oct. 17th, 2011 10:02 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you think so! Thanks so much. I appreciate it.
Oct. 20th, 2011 02:14 pm (UTC)
Chilling. Well done.
Oct. 20th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I really appreciate it.
Dec. 4th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
Scary. And great!
Dec. 5th, 2011 08:54 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you think so! Thanks so much.
Jun. 12th, 2012 04:23 am (UTC)

Brilliantly done. You are very, very good at horror. I like it.
Jun. 14th, 2012 03:43 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)
Jul. 12th, 2012 11:10 pm (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!!
Jul. 14th, 2012 07:35 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!
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )