A Fictional Rant

If you take a wander through my blog’s history, you’ll see a few similar themes.

Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson, Greg Lestrade, Sebastian Moran, Jim Moriarty and a few other familiar faces, as well as some invented ones.

Some I invented on my own, others were made in collaboration with the wife, to whom I am greatly indebted.

The reason I write about a certain set of characters so much, is because, in my own feeble way, I want to pay homage to who they are, and what they’ve done for me.

A few years ago, while on holiday in the UK, I was bedridden due to various (and relatively uninteresting) health issues. I fell into a routine of drinking tea and eating a wide range of biscuits – chocolate-dipped digestives, jammy dodgers and ginger snaps – and reading.

I read Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the first Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway, Philosophy in the Bedroom by the Marquis de Sade, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Equivoque Principle by Darren Craske, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith —

and The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan-Doyle. Although, in the case of Mr. Doyle’s stories I think perhaps consumed might be a more apt word than read. So while everyone else went off on day trips along craggy coastlines, I curled up and waited for Mr. Holmes to light his pipe while it rained outside.

When I returned home, I procured two more collections of stories, and curled up in a little corner again. When I next looked up, it was dark, and the sun had set behind my head.

Much to my dismay – I read a great deal of the stories in such a short period of time I decided it was necessary to ration them out. It was a while before I saw the boys again. A few years later, closer to the present day.

I was struggling with something called anhedonia, a type of depression that rendered me virtually incapable of taking pleasure out of anything and leaving my life remarkably flat. It was, as yet, undiagnosed, and my days bled into each other, the same several shades of grey. But I found considerable comfort in watching TV shows. Short and sweet story constructions with enough colour and movement to distract me from my own life. Thus, I constructed a massive to-be-watched list.

And then a recent friend of mine recommended the Sherlock BBC series. I consumed the stories all over again. I nearly finished both series (there were only two, then) in the one sitting. I went back to my newly-made friend, and gave her my thoughts.

(And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how that very recent friend became my wife.)

I went to therapy. My mood greatly improved, and over a number of months, I eventually didn’t have to go back to therapy. I was healthy, I was happy – I am healthy, and happy.

But I haven’t forgotten what the detective and his good doctor did for me. And I don’t think I ever will.

So here’s my tip, go out and celebrate whatever franchise or fandom you’re interested in. Get a tattoo that reads all was well like the last line of the last book in the Harry Potter series. Memorise every line of every Star Wars film. Edit articles on Memory Alpha – the Star Trek wiki page. Read all the comics. Create perfect cosplays. Learn Japanese so you can watch anime without subtitles. Write fanfiction. Draw your favourite character so much recalling their facial features becomes a matter of muscle memory.

Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not cool, or it’s not worth the time or the effort. Don’t let anyone roll their eyes at you. And certainly don’t let anyone else correct your costume, thereby correcting your self-expression. 

If your favourite characters have helped you in the way that mine have in my life, then they’re worth every bit of your time and effort. Even if they are fictional.

Go forth! Be free as birds.

As for me, I’ll be looking into houses in Sussex Downs and bee-keeping starter kits.

 

 

 

 

Aye, they have.

“..why?” Inspector Greg Lestrade leans forward in his chair and holds his hands in fists in front of his mouth.

“Why Jim Moriarty?” Sebastian smirks. It’s a familiar question. “Long answer, or short answer?”

“Short answer,” the detective inspector replies effortlessly.

“There is no short answer,” the colonel replies just as smoothly, just as emphatically.

“Okay then, go on.” Greg frowns with a natural empathy, but unfortunately the man he is sitting across from is the second most dangerous man in London.

“I met Jim,” he pauses, walking through the tracks of his memories. “In this pub in Dublin. Was gambling a bit, trying to make a quid.” He doesn’t say that he’d done that every day for a few weeks before he met Jim and sometimes didn’t feel like leaving the hotel room.

“Didn’t even see him come in. But there he was – suddenly, in his little grey suit and wolf’s head tie pin and, it felt like,” Seb’s tone heightens as though he was making a proposal. “Felt like he’d been watchin’ me my whole life.”

“But he doesn’t sit down. Jus’ walks up to us, sort of lingering a bit, and then he says I’m going to give you nightmares.

“…nightmares?” Greg raises a brow as if he wants a question answered, then just shakes his head because he realised he didn’t.

“‘N I got up, out of my chair, and I followed him.” Because the tiger, and the pirates, and the IEDS and the wives and the husbands and the guns and the scars are not enough and never will be enough.

Because the darkness in Jim’s eyes – gunpowder black, his sing-song voice, his little Irish lilt, his giggle had infiltrated every single one of his senses, his memories, his thoughts, his dreams and made it so that he couldn’t forget, couldn’t…

Couldn’t relax or unwind without waiting for the hairs to raise up on the back of his neck, on his arms, couldn’t inhale without waiting for the breath to be caught in his chest. Couldn’t close his eyes without wanting to open them.

Why Jim Moriarty? Because Jim made him feel mortal.

“So – these nightmares – have they started yet?” Greg looks down at his notes and realises there’s nothing written on there apart from more unanswerable questions.

“Aye, they have, yeah.”

Tea or Lemonade or Ginger Ale


“Hey, Pep.”
“Hello, Tony,” she doesn’t miss a beat. “How’s Bruce?”
“Well how did he seem when you spoke to him the other night?”
“I don’t really know, he’s not the type to give much away,” When she speaks, it sounds like she’s smiling sadly.
“Oh? I’ve found him very amicable, revealing, even,” he stands up out of his chair.
“He’s prouder than he looks,” she’s speaking into the corner of her shoulder now, and he knows she’s carrying coffee to somewhere.
“He’s the quiet type – likes to work and do research. Leave equations to calibrate and make corrections to my theories.” He knows she’s sitting down in her office now.
“Tony –“
“Did you know Bruce still uses books? I’ve told him they’re all uploaded anyway, you can increase the text size, find words using the search bar, and! You don’t ever get a paper cut,” he talks faster, and faster. Tony thinks it must be the reason as to why his chest is constricting like a plastic bag being grabbed around the middle – thin, clear shape stretched tight.
“Tony — “
“JARVIS likes him. I think they’re on the brink of a mutiny – it’s not my fault that the music that helps me concentrate is a mixture of classic metal and atmospheric smooth jazz.”
Tony — !” 
 
“Sorry, you were trying to say something?” He asks casually, before stopping himself, mid-pace.
“Have a nice time, okay? Make sure Bruce gets out a little bit.”
“Do you still love me? Don’t answer that.”
“Tony don’t you dare hang u–
Tony wants to run water over his face but doesn’t dare in case he catches his reflection in the mirror.
He knocks at the door, then opens it himself. “Bruce, buddy, we’re going for drinks. You can have…tea, or…lemonade, or ginger ale. C’mon.”

 

The Problem of the 221 Names

Helen quietly slips out of Mycroft’s bedroom and leaves the door ajar. She walks to the kitchen and makes herself some tea. She picks a plastic jar from her myriad of pre-natal vitamins and swallows one.

She curls up in a corner and rests a thick copy of Anna Karenina resting on her swollen stomach. It’s not long before she hears the door open and the latch close shut. She smiles.
“Hello Arthur Holmes.You’re home early,” she murmurs into his cheek, putting her arms around him. Arthur still smells like the train.
“Yes — hello Helen Holmes — Jack sent me home. Said you were very pregnant,” he removes his coat and turns his chin, looking around the corner for someone who was above hip height and growing more every day.
“He’s down for his nap,” Helen says, following her husband to the doorway of Mycroft’s room. Arthur stands in the frame, watching him and watching her. Her husband breaks his shyness long enough to step inside and rearrange blankets and stroke his hair.
Arthur makes himself tea in the kitchen, until he’s too distracted and Helen fixes it for him. Arthur puts butter left on the counter back in the fridge. She takes it out again.
“We’re be making biscuits later,” she explains and he smiles.
“Helen,” he says, pausing to remove a small notebook from his white coat. “Can I have a word?”
“Of course,” she replies, turning to face him and leaning against the counter.
Arthur opens his mouth, takes off his glasses, and starts suddenly.
“Sherrinford.”
“Oh Arthur we are not doing this now,” Helen runs her fingers through her curls and exhales like a worn-out parent in a grocery store.
“Alaric,” Arthur continues, eyes set on his humble, black book.
“…that’s the name of one of the characters in P.G Wodehouse’s Uncle Fred in the Springtime. Are you stuck in 1895?”
“Absolom.”
Helen’s features become steadily more incredulous. “Is this what you did at work today? Is this what you did in Torchwood?”
“Medwin,” Arthur adjusts his glasses hanging in the collar of his shirt.
“Oh, no, Arthur, no. No. No I don’t think so.”
“Anstice, Rolly, Vyell, Tuttell, Kilcoursie, Suwarrow –“
“Stop, stop, stop,” Helen holds up her hand and laughs. “Rolly – is that one of Jack’s?”
“There’s only two more. Sherlock, and Azeline.”
Helen approaches him and puts the mug down by his side, arms sliding around his waist. “Which name do you like?”
Arthur goes pink in his ears, his nose. “I like Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes.”
“Sherlock Holmes,” Helen echoes, pausing to kiss Arthur square on the mouth. “That name will break him or make him. I hope you know that,” but she smiles despite herself.
“…biscuits?”

He Really Wouldn’t Mind (And Neither Would She)

She thinks of him in the morning. She thinks of him at night. She thinks of him any time she allows her mind to wander those little alleyways and corners of her thoughts, wading through hours of daydreams.

And sometimes, she allows herself the luxury that he must think of her, too. John – sleeping in the room above hers, a real-life flatmate whom she dreamt of when she wanted to relax – because he was safe, because he was healthy, because he was good.

Charlotte thinks of him in the morning, in the hours between sleeping and waking, face pressed into the creases of cloth. She imagines the weight of him, leaning into her, limbs tangled into the blankets. She can spend all the time she likes running over her favourite parts of him; his steady, muscular hands, his yellow hair, his nose, his mouth, the freckles just underneath his eyes.

Her thoughts flicker back and forth between imagining his features, and imagining his touch. It’s as worshipful as ever. As gentle as ever. Running his fingers over her thighs, up, and under, the tips of his fingers summoning sensitivity that makes heat swell in her spine. She hides her face in her shoulder as though its his, breathing in the scent of skin warmed and readied.

His hands glide further upwards, slowly, meticulously, threading through her ribs, along the slope of her navel. Up, up, up towards her breasts, her nipples, and he’s with her, muttering words in between kisses. His mouth moves now, along the nape of her neck, stopping at her chest again, lingering there for as long as she likes, as long as she wants him to. John’s all mouth and teeth and tongue, coaxing little gasps disguised as breaths.

Charlotte’s melting into the sheets by the time his hands sweep over body, over the crest of her hip. Diving in between her legs – resting on her venus hill, he takes a moment to watch her shiver beneath his frame. He rocks his hand, placing absent kisses where he could until her hips start to pitch and plunge with him. Her little gasps have loosened into long, mumbled vowels, and soon, her parted mouth is virtually unable to close.

One flicker of her eyelashes, one pant of his name and John readies himself in a moment, sliding the latex back onto his cock, steadying himself with his hand. Her name comes out a jumble of syllables, and he knows he won’t last long, not long at all, not after she’s caught his eye and watches him.

He’s there, close, closer, closer, cursing under his breath until his hips meld with hers, skin lined with sweat. She cants her pelvis towards her flatmate, mumbling incoherently into her pillow, catching glimpses of his half-bitten lip and exquisite frown. She grips him, pulls him in, in, in until he’s right there ohchrist right there–!

Her orgasm comes in the shape of a sweet, lengthy shudder, and so they stay fixed to one another, rolling of their hips slowing with the rise and fall of their breathing.

She smiles, and giggles. And then gradually she realises she’s giggling with herself – and so she laughs again – at herself, this time. Charlotte untangles her limbs from the sheets and swears at the passing time. She climbs into her pyjamas and heads into the kitchen.

He’s still there, poking at beans on toast with HP sauce and tea that’s going cold. She sits across from him, and they talk about little things while he tucks in. He leaves for work, and she spends most of the day purposefully ignoring deadlines for university and wondering how he would react if she told him.

And somewhere, a young working doctor smiles politely at all of his patients and disposes of little plastic ear caps and tongue dispensers. And past all of his politeness, and all of his shyness, he really wouldn’t mind.

 

Marrow

My dog is lying on the bed and taking up most of the room, even though she’s only small. Her velvet ears are veined and she has frowns on her whiskered face.

She demands to be touched, and makes noises in the back of her throat like someone wheezing. Her belly heaves though her milk has long run dry. I wonder if she’s lonely, or if she’s bored.

My frowning dog with her stiff, textured paws, thick with the smell of bone. Silent, anxious, silky. My dog of marrow-breath.

Marrow-breath, marrow-mouth, marrow-bone.

Why not?

Why bees, though? was always the question.

 

And he would smile in reply.

 

Why would he travel around the world, scouting for every research project, conference and summer semester – only to work a half-paying job, live off cup noodles and black coffee and toast and honey, only to break his lease and leave just as he was making friends?

Because he loved the science behind it, because they were as complex as they were beautiful, because they were vital to the world’s ecosystem, because they were entirely self-sufficient, self-reliant and self-sustaining. Because he liked being the only person at a party who knew anything at all about 17,000 species of insects. Because the community of apidology was broad enough and large enough that he felt included, but sparse enough to still feel weird and wonderful.

And, after the coming storm of Colony Collapse Disorder – where entire populations of bees vanished without a trace – he felt needed, and important, and knowledgeable. He felt he could help.

Why bees, though? He asks himself, with a roll of his eyes, while he writes up an academic paper, applies for another research project, or rereads a chapter of his worn textbooks. Because you can make mead. Honey-wine, it’s called, at home. Home – in Oslo in Norway – where he hasn’t been for five years.

Because it’s alright if you’re lonely when you work with bees. It’s easier to get lost in the subtleties of bee behaviour and pheromones and hierarchies and the reigning queen than to attempt to decode the language of human behaviour. And all its inferences on culture and gender and sexuality and socio-economic politics.

Because Latin is a beautiful language, and sometimes he likes to close his eyes and pretend that it’s not dead, but merely archaic. There are 17,000 species of bees and wasps in the world and some of them are honey bees, and bumble bees, teddy bear bees and ground-dwelling bees. Some of them are solitary bees, and some of them are stingless bees and some of them are native bees.

In parts of the Southern Hemisphere, after the drones are driven out of the hives in the winter, instead of dying in the bitter, bitter cold, they seek shelter in the flowers and sleep. It’s little things like these that help him decide that maybe he’ll wander just a little bit longer.

Why bees, though? was always the question.

And he would smile Why not? in reply.