The Head And The Heart- A collection of Sherlock Holmes stories

A collection of stories about Sherlock Holmes, the well-known and well-loved detective, and his trusted friend and biographer Dr. Watson. "Reichenbach Feels" is set immediately after the unfortunate events of 'The Final Problem'. We follow the landlady of 221B, young Rebecca Hudson, on a quest to fill the void left behind by the untimely death of a lodger. In "A Case of Identity" a nightmare that has haunted our heroes becomes true: Professor Moriarty has finally outwitted them. And so we witness them planning a spectacular flight... "Both or None" depicts the best friendship in literature: Holmes and Watson have often saved each other's life- but what if nothing is safe, and no one is saved? Can one live without the other? Features two bonus stories: "Better Words Than These" describes what an impending war in the early 1900s might mean for a certain retired army surgeon, and his friend... In "The Fourth Wall" our heroes face the problem of an author vexed by his creations...


41. 1. One Last Wish

221B Baker Street, London.

I was just sitting in my armchair reading the paper, and Holmes restlessly walked around the sitting room. When he passed the window he, out of tedium, glanced out of the window, according to his habit. But instead of averting his eyes again because there was nothing of interest, he now suddenly froze.
"Watson! Prepare to meet your maker!"

Upon his call, I almost dropped the papers, in sudden panic:
"By Jove- It's because of the Yellow Face case! I've ruined it! Oh God, Holmes, we are too young to die!"
Holmes put his hand upon my shoulder, trying to reassure me:
"Courage, Watson. We must not lose our heads."
But what else could the author want from us? Only he himself could tell us, though.

And indeed, there already was a vigorous knock at the door. Before any of us could answer, it flew open.
In the frame stood Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an impetuous and fierce figure.
"Holmes!", he yelled.
I must admit that on my mind he left an similar impression like Dr. Grimesby Roylott of Stoke Moran- somewhat plethoric and almost overawing. I tried to hide my trepidation, and I was only too glad that Holmes came forward and so posed himself before me.

Sounding as calm and casually polite as always, he answered:
"Ah, Doctor... What can I do for you?"
My friend appeared composed and self-confident, but I noticed his clenched fist behind his back which betrayed his acute commotion. Doyle burst out in agitation:

"That I can tell you, Mr. Sherlock Holmes! Disappear. Forever!
I can't hear your name anymore. All the time it's just you!
Holmes here! Holmes there! Holmes bloody everywhere!
But by God, no- Holmes no more! I'll get rid of you."

At this fit of temper I actually dodged behind Holmes, so intimidating the man seemed to me. My friend faced the angry author in a tranquil and even slightly haughty manner:
"Let's not be hasty, shall we. You know well yourself that I do not ask for the attention, Doctor."
But Doyle seemed not impressed at all.
"Forget it, Holmes. No more negotiating. Your game is up. Your last case is about to be written. I came to grant you one last wish... The circumstances of your death."

I couldn't believe my ears. That could not be true. I had to interfere. "You can't kill-"
Holmes silenced me with a wave of his hand. Then he replied coolly, while I was truly shaking with fear:
"Make it worth my while, Doyle. I have worked against so many criminals that I should deserve to take the greatest and most dangerous of them with me."

I admired my companion for his courage and the coldblooded way in which he took this announcement, and that even faced with the prospect of death, still wanted to be of service to society.
Doyle nodded gravely.
"Very well, Holmes, as you wish. I'll give you an enemy to share your grave with."
Then he turned to the left glaring at me, and said:
"And you, Watson, better prepare to write your friend's obituary."

I suddenly felt dizzy, cold and sick. It seemed my worst fears were coming true that very moment. I must have turned pale, for Holmes looked alarmed, and bent over my chair:
"Are you alright, Watson?" I could not utter a word, so I just weakly shook my head.
Through slight grey mists I noticed Holmes turning to Doyle again and saying in a reproachful tone:
"Now look what you've done, Doctor. You could have told me in private."
The author did hardly react to this admonition.

When Doyle wanted to turn away and leave, I rose, due to my shock clinging to the back of my chair. Although I still felt daunted, I had to do something.
"Doyle!", I began, he looked at me, and I fancied that for a small moment I even saw a hint of pity in his otherwise relentless eyes.
"But why?", I asked. It took him but a moment to answer:
"You get in my way."

I would have done everything to keep him from acting out his plan, but before I could even say another word, he was gone.
I stood in shock, unable to move. Holmes came up to me and took my arm. I could perceive a glittering of moisture upon his brow. With a shaking voice I addressed him.
"Holmes! Tell me he can't do that! I don't want to write your obituary!- ...Holmes!"

His grasp on my arm tightened a little. Nevertheless he managed a smile when he said:
"Fear not, Watson. Sherlock Holmes cannot be killed so easily."


Sherlock Holmes closed the door of his bedroom behind himself.
"I cannot be killed.", he repeated soundlessly, obviously to restore his own courage. However, he actually was no longer as self-confident as he wanted to appear. His left arm tensely across his chest with his fist clenched, Holmes buried his face in his other hand.

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