Chapter 1: Coffee
My name is John Watson and I am alone.
My name is John Watson and I used to solve crimes with my best friend.
My name is John Watson and I lost the best, most human human I’ve ever known.
My name is John Watson and I think I’m going insane.
Beep beep. Beep beep. Beep beep. Every morning, 6:30, in my room in Baker Street, my alarm goes off. Wake up, roll out of bed, have a shower, get dressed. Switch the kettle on and get the post. It’s all bills, taxes and insurance; only bankers and wankers send me anything nowadays. Pour myself a bowl of cereal, drink my coffee. It’s the same every day. I have a routine now.
After His fall, I got a job. It’s a steady job at a practise, talking to people about their ingrown toenails and ear infections. When I decided to become a doctor it was because I wanted to help people, save people, and I always pictured the army doctoring rather than the city doctoring, gun wounds rather than conjunctivitis. Hey, it may not be living vicariously, but it pays the bills.
I go to work, at 12:30 I eat lunch with Keith, Sophie and Jemima. They talk about some trash TV program that I don’t watch. I don’t really watch TV now. After His fall the news had his face up every night for over a week. There were newspaper articles, radio programmes, news broadcasts, the BBC and Sky both tried to get interviews with me. If it weren’t for Mrs Hudson I wouldn’t have been able to get through that first fortnight. She disconnected my TV. I didn’t have to see Him on the screen every night, watch the ideas about how He did all he did. Or how He did all he didn’t. Or how He didn’t do all he did. But though it’s reconnected, television doesn’t interest me anymore; it doesn’t fulfil any gaps in my life.
I get home at 7 o’clock every evening, apart from Tuesdays when I go to the shop; I get home later then. I make dinner, normally pasta or rice or baked potato. I read or just sit in silence until 9:30 when I go to bed. He wouldn’t approve of what I read; non-fiction and sci-fi. I fill my brain with useless facts about the sky and the environment and history and other worlds. I read no romance or biographies, nothing where relationships are important. I can’t do that anymore, I can’t think about emotional attachments. I don’t go on dates. I don’t have friends. Not even one.
I wake up, get up as usual today. It’s a Thursday in July, more than a year since He fell. Go through the usual routine, but then at breakfast I use the last of the coffee. This is irritating; I shall have to go to Tesco’s tonight, out of routine. I make a mental note and go to work.
At 6:55 after work I get to Baker Street tube station. I rarely get taxis anymore, it feels lonely and the tube is cheaper. It was something He did; he was always too good for the tube. I get to our, no, my flat when I remember that I need to buy the coffee, so I turn off at Blandford Street to go to the Tesco Express on Marylebone High Street. I know my way around the shop well and I go straight to the aisle with the coffee. By 7:15 I’m looking at the shelves trying to find the best offer, that’s when I hear someone else entering the shop, someone tall, with dark brown hair, a dark leather jacket and a black shoulder bag. My alarm bells start ringing.
Normally there would be nothing suspect about another man entering a popular central London shop but I have a feeling in my gut that something is wrong. Leather Jacket is someone I vaguely recall. He was sat across from me on the tube today, reading a week-old newspaper. I had thought that a bit odd but had concluded that he was probably doing a crossword or brain teaser. Now he's in the same place as me again.
My brain starts to think, I feel myself reach for my gun and then remember I haven’t taken it with me anywhere since He fell. I duck down and peer through the shelves, watching the man as he approaches the counter.
“Hello, I was wondering if you could help me with something.” The man pulls out his wallet and lowers his voice; I have to strain to hear. “I’m a police officer, I’m on a case and I’m trying to find someone.” He shows her something from his wallet, a badge I suspect. He then reaches into his bag.
“Have you seen this man?” He asks the university student manning the tills. He’s holding a CCTV image, I can’t make out who it’s of but the time stamp and camera angle makes this clear. The girl takes it from him and studies it.
“Yeah, I have. He lives near here, I always see him if I have a shift on a Tuesday, I think that’s when he does his shopping. But not today, I haven’t seen him today,” replies the girl. I’m momentarily confused; I don’t see anyone else here regularly when I come on a Tuesday. Then I realise, she’s talking about me. A CCTV photo of me? I wonder what this is about, but I don't want to reveal myself.
“Hmm, okay then. I went to his apartment earlier; his landlord said he may have come here. I guess not. Thank you for your help.” Leather Jacket takes the photo back and puts it in an outside pocket of his bag. The automatic doors slide open and he leaves. I relax, though it was stupid to be tense as it was only a police officer and it’s not like I’ve done anything remotely illegal since his fall.
I grab some coffee and head to the checkout counter. The girl is serving a teenage boy who has just walked in. He’s trying to buy some cigarettes though it’s obvious he can’t be more than 15. She tells him she’s not going to sell to him as he doesn’t have ID and he doesn’t look old enough. The boy is getting more and more frustrated and it looks like he’s going to start something until I cough from behind him in the queue. He grunts and grabs a packet of chewing gum, pays and leaves. It seems the checkout girl is too flustered to notice that I am the man she ID’d for the policeman earlier. I pay for my coffee and leave.
Sorry this took a little while to get posted, art coursework and science revision had to be done! Hope you enjoy!
I apologise for any inaccuracies to do with how the emergency operator systems and police departments work but I have no experience with any emergency services, all my information is from the internet or TV.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
I return to my flat and put the coffee in the cupboard. It seems perfectly normal, nothing’s been noticeably moved, it doesn’t seem as though the policeman came up here. Not that it would matter; I’ve got nothing to hide.
Still, it’s worth talking to Mrs Hudson about, because I don’t know why he came in the first place. He had a CCTV image, why would he have a CCTV image of me? And come to think of it, why did he look for me at Tesco’s? Mrs Hudson would have made him a cuppa, he could have sat with her downstairs until I got back. She knows I’m never at the shop for long; surely it would have been easier to wait and not risk missing me? Thinking it through this all seems somewhat suspicious. I feel a bit of an idiot now, especially when I think that He would have thought of all this and more within seconds.
I go downstairs and knock on Mrs Hudson’s door. There’s no answer, so I shout her name. There’s still no answer. Maybe she’s in the shower? No, I’d be able to hear. Maybe she’s not here, and she left a note about the policeman.
I test the door; it’s unlocked. I open it enough to fit my head through and peer round the door. “Mrs Hudson?” I call, but there’s still no answer. I open the door fully and enter her kitchen, where I see a mug smashed on the floor. Immediately my senses sharpen, for this seems utterly paranormal. Mrs Hudson wouldn’t smash a cup and then not clear it up, unless she was unable to.
I look round her kitchen in panic, and I see a blood spatter on the wall, about knee height - or head height if you’ve been knocked over. I go through the door and see a trail of blood, signs of a body pulling itself, or being dragged, through the hallway and into Mrs Hudson’s bedroom. I walk down the hall and push open the door, careful to avoid standing in the blood so I don’t damage what evidence there could be. I haven’t thought like this since He was around, I haven’t had to watch my step because I haven’t been anywhere that I needed to be cautious in. Lots of things are changing today.
Mrs Hudson is lying on the floor in her room. There’s a cut on her forehead and a hole in her gut, a knife wound. I check her pulse but find nothing. No heartbeat.
My chest constricts; Mrs Hudson, dead. I can’t fathom this. Mrs Hudson has always been there. She was there when He was here and she was there when He wasn’t. She has been a rock, the calm normality in all my strange adventures with Him and the understanding shoulder in His wake. And now she’s dead, but not just dead. She’s been murdered.
Who could have killed her between the Policeman and me being here? That’s a very small time gap and I saw nothing. But first things first, call 999.
“Emergency, which services do you require?” The operator asks me.
“Police, it’s my landlady. She’s dead!” I feel panic creep into my voice. I haven’t had to do this in a long time. “I’m at 221B Baker Street, London. She’s been stabbed. I’m a doctor and I know she’s …” I take a deep breath and walk back into Mrs Hudson’s kitchen.
“Okay, sir, the police are on their way. Just stay calm, is there anyone else in the building?” The operator calmly asks me questions, tells me to stay safe, trying to stop me from panicking. I hadn’t realised this was in her job description but evidently murder is one of the things they talk to you about. It doesn’t take that long for the sirens to wail outside my door and I tell the operator that the police have arrived. Hanging up the phone I rush to the front door and let the police in. I gesture towards her room and two police officers go in. I am hit with a small wall of relief as Lestrade enters the house and grasps my arm.
“John, what happened?”
All business, no sympathy. Good.
“I went to Tesco to get coffee, I got home and she was like this. But the killer would have had to be fast.” I proceed to tell him about the policeman in Tesco. “He said he was here, but the gap between him leaving and me arriving was only about half an hour. You should find him, ask him about it. Maybe he saw her killer; maybe he can identify the bastard!” My voice is getting louder and I’m shaking. “Why would someone do this, Greg? She’s just an old lady! She’s never hurt anyone! It’s heartless, cruel!” I’m quaking so hard it’s almost spasms; my entire body is trembling with sorrow and rage. Mostly rage.
“John, calm down. We’ll take you down to Scotland Yard and we’ll get hold of the officer you saw. It’ll be fine.” He takes me by the arm and together we walk out the front door, away from this nightmare. It dawns on me that the only person who had never failed to be there, the one who had been sitting at home with a cup of tea, the person who had looked after me in my mourning, was gone. Greg is nice, but he’s always working. He has to distract himself from life in his own way. It turns out He wasn’t wrong about the PE teacher. But then again, He was never wrong.
Two hours later I am free from the questions about Mrs Hudson and able to get to work trying to find the policeman who I’d seen. Strangely, Lestrade doesn’t have a clue anyone was looking for me. We go through computer images of police officers in London but none of them look like the officer I had seen.
Leather Jacket must have not been a police officer. This becomes apparent to me in the early hours before dawn. Lestrade falls asleep at around 1, I continue searching until I can’t concentrate at all. I lean back in the cushy chair in Greg’s office and fall asleep.
“Keep your eyes fixed on me. Please, will you do this for me?”
“This phone call – it’s, er … it’s my note. It’s what people do, don’t they – leave a note?”
God no. No!
No, no, no!
“John?” Someone’s shaking my arm. I can smell coffee and paper, office smells. I’m disorientated, forgetting where I am. It’s been more than a year since I’ve broken routine.
“John, wake up.” I open my eyes, remembering. Remembering the all too real nightmare of yesterday. Remembering the all too real nightmare of His fall and the dream I just had. I shut it out! Those first two weeks I dreamt it every night, and then the dreams stopped. They’re not allowed to start again, I worked so hard! I lost so much, nearly everything, and my refuge was that I would not, could not, and did not think about that. But no.
The dream happened again because Mrs Hudson is dead. I no longer have my rock and I will no longer have my pathetic routine. Everything has been taken. I will find the shit that did this, I will kill them, and then I will have no purpose in life. Everything has been taken, except for that which I will take.
I'm hoping to get the next chapter done quicker than this one! I post updates on my tumblr, kungfubeaver.tumblr.com
Of course comments, compliments and especially constructive criticisms are very welcome:)