“Thank you all for coming here today. Your co-operation is deeply appreciated.”
“As if we had a choice!” Sherlock’s whisper was theatrically loud.
Sally’s voice, on the contrary was intentionally grating. “Speak for yourself, freak. I could get used to this.” She lounged on the comfortable chair as she raised the flute filled with perfectly chilled champagne to her lips.
Sherlock scowled darkly. Trust Mycroft to induce Stockholm syndrome in his kidnap victims within a couple of days. Not that surprising, with a round trip to Scotland and a stay in a five star resort for five days! No wonder, the economy was going to the dogs. Now they had been gathered in this ruined castle to satisfy his brother’s pointless whims.
“This, as Sherlock would put it, is an experiment. We have managed to procure an object with some strange electromagnetic properties.”
He paused for effect, during which Sherlock yawned loudly.
“As your non-disclosure agreements read, you are the sample population. With the aid of Dr. Watson’s blog; we already know much about your behaviour and environment. Think of this next step... as data collection.”
Anderson was eyeing the equipment in the room. “I will not consent to anything invasive, like electrodes in my brain.”
Sherlock had to say, “Not that there would be any brain activity to record.”
Before Anderson could retort back, Mycroft interrupted hurriedly, “It’s perfectly safe. All you have to do is look into this mirror and tell me what you see.” He gestured towards a huge floor-to- ceiling length, antique, gilded mirror in the corner of the room. “One of its strange properties is that we can’t seem to move it from its present location without damaging it. The equipment that you see is just to make certain that you are speaking the truth. Let’s begin.”
Mrs. Hudson was first.
“I’m in heaven!” She exclaimed.
“Really,” Sherlock’s voice was sarcastic. “Did you lace the champagne with LSD, Mycroft?”
“No… it’s my reflection. I’m dead, in heaven and Billy is with me. There are angels around us, and…we’re having tea together! This is beautiful!” She turned to Mycroft with tearful eyes, “Is it like a crystal ball, which shows the future?”
Mycroft’s answer was smooth, “We are not really sure.”
Sherlock was not to be distracted. “Testing hallucinogens on senior citizens! That’s low, even for you, Mycroft.”
Mycroft pointedly ignored him.
Next up was Lestrade.
“I look younger and I’m sitting in my office.”
Sally groaned, “Boss, you’re gonna make us all look bad!”
“That’s it?” Mycroft prompted.
“Wait, there’s a photograph on the desk. It’s a picture of me and Lisa and…our son. We have a son!”
“That’s his ex-wife,” Sally said, looking at John’s curious expression.
Lestrade couldn’t seem to tear his eyes from the mirror. “There’s something else…now I get it! It’s a Monday morning, according to the electronic calendar on my desk. But it’s calm. There are no phones ringing.”
“Hmm…” Mycroft nodded, as though understanding something.
Sherlock looked horrified.
John spoke up for the first time. “So, it seems to show us what we want.”
Sherlock looked witheringly at John, “Of course it would. At least, that’s what they have inscribed on the border. It’s an inverted sentence, which says, ‘I show not ye face, but your heart’s desire’. I am guessing it produces a heightened suggestibility for whatever drug they are testing.”
John decided not to point out that Sherlock was probably the only one who had figured out what the inscription meant.
“But then”, Sherlock sputtered. “What Lestrade wanted was no crime, no work! Why would he possibly want that?”
John couldn’t come up with a suitable explanation.
Molly was the third in line.
“Oh Dear!” Sherlock was already groaning.
As Molly faced the mirror, she went red-faced and her heartbeat audibly sped up. “I’m getting married…”
He sunk in his chair, hiding his face in his hands.
“…to Benedict Cumberbatch!” She squealed happily.
Sherlock’s head shot up as though he had been electrocuted. “WHO?”
“Oh!” Sally actually moaned in approval. “He’s that gorgeous actor, who was Frankenstein in that play. Even his voice is such a turn-on.”
Now it was Anderson’s turn to look disgruntled.
Out of the corner of his eye, John saw Sherlock type the name furiously into his phone and hit search.
Sally was next.
“Please do not say that you are getting married to Anderson. I still have some respect left, for you.”
“Sherlock!” John hissed; as Sally ignored him and Anderson shot him a venomous look.
But Sally seemed unable to speak once she was in front of the mirror.
“Take your time.” Mycroft’s tone, however, was less than patient.
“It’s personal,” she muttered, avoiding Mycroft’s eyes. Now Sherlock was intrigued.
Mycroft was not the British Government for nothing. “More personal than what the Detective Inspector saw?”
“Fine!” She spat out the words. “I’m the freak.”
“What do you mean?” Mycroft enquired cautiously, just as Sherlock exclaimed, “Excuse me!”
She continued, not looking at either, gritting her teeth, “I have come to the crime-scene like he does. I am making fancy deductions like he does, solving it in five minutes without Daniel’s help.”
Sherlock was, if possible, looking even more horrified than he had been with Lestrade.
“What the hell is wrong with you people?” He shouted, looking at Lestrade and his team.
He didn’t like John’s consoling smile at Sally, which was a bit too understanding.
Now it was Anderson’s turn and Sherlock just wouldn’t keep silent.
“Maybe it will show a brain transplant with Anderson as the recipient…No…Scratch that, a transplant implies there is something already present in that thick skull.”
“Shut up, freak. I’m trying to concentrate.”
“Or maybe, it will show you getting the newly instituted Nobel Prize for stupidity.”
Anderson stilled, his jaw falling open, bringing Sherlock’s chatter to an abrupt stop.
“I’m petting a Stegosaurus and I’m holding a Tyrannosaurus Rex infant in my other hand,” he said breathily.
There was a momentary pin-drop silence, which was uncharacteristically broken by John Watson who burst into uncontrollable giggles.
Sherlock was rendered speechless, before he turned to a mortified Sally to ask, “How could you possibly have convinced yourself to sleep with him?”
“Alright John, you’re next,” Mycroft called.
Just as John was standing up, Sherlock pulled him down. “No! Me first. I don’t trust that fat git.”
“As you wish,” Mycroft said graciously.
“In that case, I wish you would go first.”
“Me?” Mycroft’s voice was merely curious.
“Yes, YOU! You claim that this mirror is producing the visions and you haven’t drugged us with some experimental hallucinogen. So prove it!”
“You do know that I can easily hoodwink the paraphernalia in this room.”
“Of course, I know that.” Sherlock said scornfully, before his voice turned gleeful. “But you cannot fool me! I am assuming that is one of the reasons why you are here in person as well, to ensure that I speak the truth about what I see. Let me return the favour. I’ll be your lie-detector.”
“You haven’t tried it yet?” John’s voice was incredulous.
Mycroft waved an unconcerned hand airily in his direction. “Security reasons… My assistant tried it. She seemed to have seen three well known public personalities pleasuring her simultaneously.” He ignored the startled gasp that seemed to have come from Molly at his casual statement. “Well, security should not be an issue now.”
Sherlock watched him step up to the mirror, his own face almost indecent with anticipation.
“Ah!” Mycroft’s face lit up with the only contended smile John had ever seen on it.
“What?” urged Sherlock. “What do you see?”
Mycroft took a deep breath and stepped back to face Sherlock squarely with a beatific smile.
“Apparently, my secret desire is to be Willy Wonka.”
Sherlock looked nonplussed as the whole room burst out laughing.
“Who?” He turned helplessly to John, who was convulsing with laughter at the image in his head. He whipped out his phone again, as Mycroft snapped, “You can Google the name later, Sherlock. I complied with your condition. It’s your turn now.”
“It’s unnecessary,” Sherlock protested mulishly. “I already know what I’ll see.”
“And what do you think that is?” Mycroft asked superciliously.
“It will be me, throwing Moriarty off the top of a cliff.”
John frowned. Lestrade was watching Sherlock worriedly.
“Yes…fascinating”, Mycroft drawled. “But if you seem to recall, none of us saw what we expected to see. You too might be surprised, Sherlock.”
“I highly doubt it,” he muttered, as he first walked behind the gilded mirror, inspecting it thoroughly.
John privately agreed. If anyone knew his own mind, it was Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock finally stood in front of the mirror, looking utterly bored.
“Now remember, no lies.”
Sherlock snorted, “Please… Why would I do that? All I seem to be doing is sitting in my flat on a rug in front of the fire-place, though for the record; I don’t own said rug in real life. Ok…this is strange. There’s a roaring fire, so I’m assuming it must be bloody cold; probably dead winter. Yet for some reason, I’m not even wearing a shirt. Hmm…must be an experiment.”
His back was to the room, so he missed the collective audience ears perk up at his description. John had a mixture of surprise and trepidation on his face. He had been sure the reflection would show Moriarty, one way or the other. This was the one way he hadn’t considered.
Sherlock seemed to be thinking along the same lines. “Mycroft, if Jim walks in on me when I’m half-naked in my own flat; I’ll smash your contraption to a thousand pieces.” He had taken his eyes off the mirror.
“Sherlock!” Mycroft had finally reached the end of his tether. “Will you just concentrate on your reflection properly for a minute? You only have to describe what you see. There is no need to deduce anything.”
He turned back to the mirror in a huff. After a moment, his face lighted up, “Oh, John’s here too.”
John sat up a bit straighter at this pronouncement.
“At least he’s wearing a jumper, thank goodness. His injury starts acting up in the winter. He’s now come to sit beside me, in front of the fire.” He continued reciting, unaware of the ratcheting tension in the room behind him. “I am taking off his jumper now. Why would I do that? HE’D BE COLD, YOU IDIOT!” He yelled at his reflection, before continuing sulkily, “Maybe Anderson has infected this thing. Now I’m…Oh!” he suddenly gasped, as his brain caught up with his eyes…
His mouth fell open for a moment. Then he gulped hard and blushed, his cheekbones acquiring a never before seen pink flush which extended to the tips of his earlobes, his breathing becoming noticeably deeper. He looked completely mesmerised; unable to take his eyes off the mirror. Somewhere in the background, Molly giggled, but Sherlock didn’t seem to hear her at all.
Finally, Mycroft cleared his throat to break the trance. “I think that’s enough data, little brother.”
Sherlock looked completely shell-shocked as he walked back towards John, who had an indecipherable look on his face.
Anderson sniggered, “And he says, I’m thick…”
For the first time, Sherlock didn’t have a comeback.
“John you’re up.”
John felt the weight of expectation in the room double. But unlike ten minutes before when Mycroft had called him the first time, now his hand was perfectly steady. In fact, he felt wonderful. Mycroft was looking at him enigmatically.
“So?” Mycroft prompted him, as the entire room held its collective breath. John could feel their stares boring a hole in the back of his jumper.
“Um…I don’t see anything.”
“What?” Lestrade’s voice was anxious.
“I mean, it’s just me…like looking into a regular mirror. I’m wearing the same clothes, standing and talking, just a normal reflection.”
A babble of curious whispers broke out behind his back. John turned away from the mirror, now unable to contain the brilliant smile that broke out on his face which he had been suppressing since the last five minutes. He confidently walked back to his still confused looking flat-mate and with a wink towards Mycroft, dragged him out of the room as their audience tittered.
Mycroft’s smile, as he watched them go was equally triumphant…