Sherlock: The Empty Houses - Part 1

Image Credit: Elyse G., Wilmington, MA The author's comments: I'm a huge fan of the BBC's "Sherlock" and this is my idea about what happens after "The Reichenbach Fall". Based on Doyle's "Adventure of the Empty House", it's a full script, around 90 pages. But, I hope you will be willing to read it all the way through because I am really proud of the way it turned out. I want to know what other fans think. So please let me know how you like it. (This is only the first half due to the character limit) INT- HARRY’S FLAT- NIGHT JOHN WATSON is sleeping fitfully on a fold-out couch bed in a dark moonlit room. He’s dreaming, seeing SHERLOCK HOLMES standing like a silhouette on the rooftop of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, his dark coat billowing in the faint breeze. John still sees him jumping, still sees him lying bleeding on the sidewalk with a smashed head. He keeps hearing Sherlock’s last words, “Goodbye John”, echoing in his head. He wakes with a start. JOHN Sherlock! He realizes that it was just a dream, and lays back down, quietly trying to hold in his sobs. INT – HARRY’S FLAT – MORNING John is sitting at a small round table in a tiny little corner that serves as a dining room. The flat is neat, but small. It’s definitely not Baker St. John is staring at his laptop screen, his blog open. The cursor is blinking, waiting patiently for words that aren’t coming. His phone buzzes, and he looks at it. It’s a text from MYCROFT HOLMES: “I need to talk to you, please answer for once.” John doesn’t. He puts the phone down again. A woman walks into the room; she’s plain, but kind-looking: HARRY WATSON. She has obviously just gotten out of bed, since her hair is messy and she’s still wearing pajamas. She yawns. HARRY Good morning big brother. She walks past him into the kitchen. HARRY [OS] Want some coffee? JOHN Yeah, some coffee would be nice, thanks. She notices his tone and comes back out of the kitchen, seeing his tired eyes and empty blog. HARRY You sleep okay? John sighs and closes his laptop. JOHN I had the dream again. Just… something about that day isn’t right. I know I’m missing something, but I just can’t... Harry leaves the kitchen and sits down at the table across from John. HARRY John, it’s been almost a year and a half. I know he was your best friend, but he’s not coming back. You need to move on. Constantly thinking about it isn’t going to help. JOHN Well what would you have me do, Harry?! Forget about him? HARRY No, I’m not saying- JOHN Are you saying I should listen to everyone else, and believe he was a fraud?! I knew him, and he wasn’t a fake. HARRY No of course not. It’s just… You haven’t done anything much since it happened. I mean, you said you’d only stay here a few months til you found someplace else, but you’ve been here almost a year. JOHN [sighs] Harry, I know and I'm sorry- HARRY You need to get a proper job and your own place and get your life back on track. Sherlock Holmes is gone and I’m sorry, but pretending he’s still alive won’t bring him back. JOHN [sighs] You’re right. It doesn’t make sense, but he’s dead. INT – RUE DE L’UNIVERSITE HOUSE – NIGHT SHERLOCK HOLMES is fighting two men in a dimly lit room. He’s in casual clothes, a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. His hood is pulled up. There’s very little furniture. Sherlock weaves and bobs, mostly avoiding their wild blows. One lands a punch on his nose, and it starts bleeding. While he’s distracted, one of the men pulls out a gun. Sherlock quickly knocks it out of his hand and it clatters across the floor. He then lands a strong blow on the other man, knocking him out. As the man crumples to the floor, Sherlock pulls his gun out of its holster and bashes the other man, knocking him out too. Sherlock stands straighter, surveying his work, and adjusts his clothes. He’s hardly breaking a sweat. EXT – RUE DE L’UNIVERSITE HOUSE – NIGHT Sherlock exits the house and walks down the street. It’s a pretty neighborhood, with old elegant Victorian buildings. Sherlock pulls his phone out of his pocket, dials, and holds the phone to his ear. OPERATOR [OS] [speaking French] Yes? What is your emergency? SHERLOCK [speaking French] The two men responsible for the Meursault murders are tied up at 224 Rue de l’Universite. He hangs up, then dials another number, then turns a slight corner. The Eiffel Tower can be seen ahead of him, glowing magnificently in the night sky. He stops, looking up at it, and holds his phone to his ear again. He waits a minute, then… SHERLOCK Mycroft, it’s done. I need a plane ticket to London right away. He hangs up without waiting for a response and hails a taxi. TITLES INT – JOHN’S FLAT – DAY John has his own flat now. He’s recently moved in, so there’s still a few boxes scattered around. The room is cozy, if plain. There’s an armchair facing away from the door. He walks around the flat, straightening up. The TV is on a news channel. John pauses in his cleaning to watch for a minute. REPORTER Breaking news! There was a mass shooting last night at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. 25 people were killed and 11 wounded. The police are still looking for a suspect. There was a message- John’s phone rings and he pulls it out of his pocket to answer. JOHN Yeah? Cut to INT – HARRY’S FLAT - DAY Harry is sitting at her table, talking on her phone with John. HARRY Hey John. Whatcha up to? Cut to INT – JOHN’S FLAT – DAY JOHN Oh just straightening things up still. I’ve almost gotten everything unpacked. Cut to INT – HARRY’S FLAT - DAY HARRY Yay! Well I was wondering if you’d want to come over for lunch today. You can tell me all about the new place. Cut to INT – JOHN’S FLAT – DAY JOHN Um, sure that sounds nice. I have to run by Baker Street first to pick up a few more things. I left a whole box of books there. But I’ll come by after I’m done there, maybe about 2? HARRY [OS] Sounds good. I’ll see you then! JOHN Bye. John hangs up. EXT – 221B BAKER STREET – DAY John gets out of a cab and walks up to the door. He pauses briefly and looks at the door, as if reluctant to go in. JOHN It’s just an empty house. He pulls out the key that he’s kept and lets himself in. INT – 221B BAKER STREET – DAY John walks into the sitting room and looks around. Almost nothing has changed. It’s a little tidier and a few of John’s things are missing, but otherwise untouched. His box of books is next to the couch. John looks around, reminiscing, for a short time, and then bends down get the box. As he stands up, he sees the yellow spray-painted happy face on the wall, pocked with bullet holes. The result of Sherlock’s boredom. He smiles slightly and traces it with his finger. Finally he turns around to leave. Sherlock walks out of his bedroom at the same time. He’s reading a newspaper and eating an apple. His hair is dyed ginger, and he’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans. John gawps. He drops the box of books, and Sherlock looks up, surprised. He’s still chewing a piece of his apple. JOHN Sherlock?! SHERLOCK [mouth full, garbled] John! What are you…? John staggers and faints. Sherlock watches him without moving, still shocked. John wakes up on the couch, wincing and rubbing his head. He looks around, confused for a minute, but then everything comes back to him. Sherlock is sitting in his armchair by the fireplace, typing on his laptop. He hasn’t noticed that John’s awake yet, and John just stares at him, disbelieving. Sherlock closes his laptop and looks over, finally noticing John’s stare. SHERLOCK Oh good you’re awake. I didn’t expect that reaction… John slowly pulls himself off the couch, never taking his eyes off Sherlock. He slowly crosses the room to stand in front of Sherlock, who is confused by John’s strange behavior. John stands in front of Sherlock for a few seconds, just staring at him. Sherlock is getting impatient. After John has reassured himself that it’s really Sherlock, he promptly punches him across the cheek. Sherlock yells, holds his cheek, and looks at John in alarm. SHERLOCK What the HELL was that for? JOHN THAT was for lying to me. Where the hell were you? SHERLOCK I was- JOHN You couldn’t even send me a text?! SHERLOCK I couldn’t- JOHN Do you know what I’ve been through, you heartless bastard?! SHERLOCK SHUT UP! John stands back a little. SHERLOCK Will you allow me to explain? John stares back for a second, then relents and sits down in his armchair opposite Sherlock. SHERLOCK [cont] Thank you. Now. Where was I? All over the world, tracking down Moriarty’s criminal gang members. Why didn’t I text you? You had to think I was dead, or you and I would both be in danger. As for what you’ve been through, yes I do know. JOHN Well that clears up nothing whatsoever. How did you do it? You were dead! I saw your body and all that blood, I went to your funeral, I visited your grave! How…? Sherlock smirks, proud of his deception. SHERLOCK I didn’t expect you to be so totally convinced. I thought you’d learned something after living with me for so long. JOHN Yeah yeah, stop gloating and get on with it. SHERLOCK Ok fine. Most of what you saw was correct. Flashback, showing Sherlock’s jump and deception. SHERLOCK [VO] I did jump, and I did hit the sidewalk. But my coat provided wind resistance, like a parachute, and slowed me down a bit. I also fell parallel to the ground to increase surface area. When I actually hit the ground, I twisted to land on my side which reduced damage to my spine and vital organs. I wasn’t totally unscathed though: a few broken ribs, a fractured arm, and I hit my head which bled quite a bit. I also had some help from Bart’s and my brother. Molly made sure there were medics on scene right away, so you couldn’t get too close. I also hired some homeless people to keep you away. I couldn’t have you noticing I was alive. Mycroft put an agent on the scene disguised as a doctor. He gave me a shot of an anesthetic and curare, which is a muscle relaxant used in surgery, to induce a state of paralysis, and voila I was dead. Once the paramedics took me inside, Mycroft took over. Not personally, of course, he’s too lazy for that. But his agents were there to make sure I was declared dead. They took my “body” to a safe house, where I recovered from the drugs and my injuries. Later, Molly assisted again by helping provide a decoy body for the coffin, though she didn’t know what it was for. John is speechless, trying to process everything. JOHN So you… Ok… And the phone call… He nods to himself, it all makes sense now. JOHN Ok, so you faked your death and deceived us all. But why? What happened on the roof to make you have to kill yourself and lie to everyone? SHERLOCK You know why. Moriarty. I knew he would back me into a corner, so I had to find a way out before he did. If I hadn’t killed myself, his assassins would have killed Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, and you. So I had to jump. And tell the world that I was a fraud, in order to prevent an investigation that would reveal my deception. Moriarty was thorough. Jumping was my only option. So I just had to find a way to survive the fall. JOHN What about the key code? Couldn’t we have used that to destroy Brook and expose Moriarty? I thought that was the plan, up until you jumped. SHERLOCK No, there never was a key code; Moriarty invented it to start the ball rolling. It was his Mycroft bait, to worm my life story out of him. He broke into all those places without it. John processes for a moment. JOHN That is the most stupid and cruel thing you’ve ever done. And that’s saying a lot. So where’s Moriarty? You said you’re tracking down his men, but why not him? SHERLOCK Because he’s dead. John is shocked, but not unhappy. JOHN Dead?! How? SHERLOCK Yes dead. He shot himself on the rooftop. That was his last move, forcing me to jump. He thought he’d won, but I still beat him at his own game. JOHN Oh God, only a psychopath would think that killing yourself means you win… Wait, why wasn’t Moriarty’s death in the papers? Yours was the big thing for weeks. SHERLOCK Yes, I thought that was odd too. I haven’t been able to really look into it yet, but I assume his men took the body away to let me have the spotlight. John nods, and is quiet for a minute, thinking. Then Sherlock’s appearance finally registers as odd. The t-shirt and jeans are far from Sherlock’s normal attire, dress shirts and suits. JOHN What are you wearing? And why are you ginger? Sherlock rolls his eyes, as if tired of being asked this question. SHERLOCK All Moriarty’s men know what I look like. You could say I’m sort of a celebrity among them. So I had to change my looks in order to stay dead. JOHN Well, it’s a great look on you. Sherlock looks at his clothes self consciously. JOHN [cont] So who knows about you being alive, besides me and Mycroft? Molly? SHERLOCK Just Mrs. Hudson. Mycroft knew from the start of course, he helped me. I never told Molly why I needed her to do the things I asked, so she doesn’t know. Mrs. Hudson found out about a month afterwards, right after you moved out. I came back here just a few times, just short stays. Gave her quite a scare the first time. JOHN Yeah I can imagine, if my reaction is anything to go by. I was wondering why Mrs. Hudson never rented the place out again, or even cleaned up… SHERLOCK Yes, Mycroft’s been paying the bill, seeing as I can’t exactly work. I couldn’t really bring myself to abandon the place altogether… He looks around fondly. John is slightly jealous about Sherlock and Mycroft’s contact over the past year and a half. JOHN So, sounds like you’ve been seeing a lot of Mycroft lately. Bet he’s loving that. SHERLOCK Oh yes, he’s thrilled. He gets to boss me around and keep me in check. Just the way he likes it… JOHN Are you just back for a couple days again, or are you back for good now? SHERLOCK I came back because someone wanted me to. JOHN And who would that be? SHERLOCK Don’t know yet. That’s why I came back. John’s disappointed. But he doesn’t want Sherlock to know that. JOHN I see. So you’re going after him, whoever he is, all rogue, no help. Well good luck with that. He stands up, like he’s going to leave. JOHN [cont] I’ve actually got to go- SHERLOCK [uncomfortable] Actually, John, I mean, since you know I’m alive and everything, there’s not really any point for me to work alone anymore… John pauses. This is what he wanted. JOHN So what you’re saying is… SHERLOCK I need your help. I want your help. I haven’t worked as well this past year and a half without you. I had to relearn how to think inside my head. I had to be more discreet. John looks again at his bright hair. JOHN Yeah good job in the discreet department. SHERLOCK Oh, shut up, it was the cheapest hair dye I could find. JOHN I can tell. SHERLOCK So will you come or not? John sits back down in the chair. JOHN That depends… Where are we going? SHERLOCK To the theatre. EXT – 221B BAKER STREET – DAY Sherlock walks out of the house first, alone. He’s wearing his familiar black trench coat over his jeans and t-shirt now. He hails a taxi, but it keeps driving; taken. He looks across the street at the house that was blown up more than two years before. It’s been mostly repaired, but the windows are still boarded up and there’s a “For Rent” sign in the window. Suddenly Sherlock notices movement in one of the windows. The board covering it was shifted, as if someone had moved it to look out the window, and then replaced it. Sherlock stares at the window for another second, puzzled. John finally exits 221B. JOHN Ready? Sherlock tears his gaze from the window and nods to John, who hails a cab right away. They get in and head for the theatre. INT – TAXI – DAY John and Sherlock are sitting in the back of a cab. JOHN So why are we going to a theatre? SHERLOCK Don’t you watch the news? There’s been a mass shooting at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. He pulls out his phone and starts doing something on it. JOHN Yeah, I heard about it, but why are you interested? SHERLOCK Someone left a message there for me. That’s why I came back. He shows John a picture on his phone. It’s a wall in a theatre, with the words “Get Sherlock” on it. There’s a happy face inside the O. John recognizes it as Moriarty’s work from a year and a half ago. JOHN Who is it? A copycat? But they all think you’re dead! I did until about half an hour ago! SHERLOCK I can’t theorize without all the facts. That’s why I came back. Their taxi arrives, and they exit the car. EXT – CRITERION THEATRE – DAY They stand on the sidewalk across the street from the theatre, under the famous TV screens of Piccadilly Circus. The theatre’s entrance is cordoned off by the police, and there are officers keeping the crowd of reporters and other curious bystanders at bay. Sherlock saunters towards the entrance, but John grabs his arm and holds him back. JOHN Wait, Sherlock, you can’t just go barging in there. SHERLOCK What? What do you mean? JOHN You’re dead. You can’t just swagger in there like nothing’s happened. Even looking like that you’ll be recognized. Or I will. Sherlock rolls his eyes, impatient. SHERLOCK Fine. I’ll call Lestrade and tell him meet us out here. He pulls out his phone to make the call, but John stops him. JOHN Uh, no, it’s probably best if I do it. John pulls out his phone to make the call instead. EXT – CRITERION THEATRE SIDE STREET– DAY John and Sherlock are waiting for Lestrade on a smaller, less busy street behind the theatre. Sherlock is pacing, and John’s just watching. SHERLOCK Oh God, where is he?! Then Lestrade comes around the corner. He sees John first and walks towards him in a hurry. LESTRADE Now John, this had better be- He recognizes Sherlock and stops walking. He stares at Sherlock for a minute, disbelieving. LESTRADE [cont] Sherlock?! SHERLOCK Yes, it’s me, I’m not dead. Now I need you to let me take a look at the crime scene- LESTRADE You were dead! Lestrade looks questioningly at John. LESTRADE [cont] How…? JOHN It’s complicated. You’re taking it a lot better than I did. I only found out about an hour ago. SHERLOCK Enough with the soap opera! I need you to let me in on this Lestrade. Lestrade starts coming back to his senses. LESTRADE Um, yeah, I’ll see what I can do, but it’ll be tough. I expect it’s the uh… message? And what happened to your face? Sherlock touches his cheek where a bruise is starting to form from John’s punch. SHERLOCK Yes, the message. And John punched me. LESTRADE [to John] Nice. JOHN Thanks. It felt good. SHERLOCK Enough already! Hurry up, Lestrade! LESTRADE Okay, but I’d better warn you, most of the guys were pretty happy about your death, so don’t expect a warm welcome back. SHERLOCK Why would I want that? Besides, I’d rather stay dead for a little while longer. Can you get me in there alone? LESTRADE [sighs] I’ll see what I can do, but no promises. He pauses and surveys Sherlock’s new look. LESTRADE [cont] Why are you dressed like that? And what happened to your hair? SHERLOCK Hair dye, ever heard of it? Sherlock glances at Lestrade’s salt and pepper hair. SHERLOCK [cont] No wait, of course you have. And I see that your wife has left you again. Shame. Now, case please? LESTRADE [resigned] Yeah, wait out here a minute. Lestrade reluctantly goes back to the theatre. INT – CRITERION THEATRE, GROUND FLOOR – DAY Sherlock, John, and Lestrade enter the theatre through a door near the stage. It’s a large Victorian theatre, with a ground floor and an elegant balcony. There are a few police still in the room; apparently Lestrade couldn’t get everyone out. Bodies are scattered around the theatre, shot. One man appears to have fallen from the balcony and lays sprawled across several seats. He’s wearing a dark coat and a blue scarf. Sherlock stands in the doorway for a second, surveying the scene. Lestrade and John continue into the cavernous room, and Sherlock continues after them. They slowly walk among the carnage. LESTRADE 25 dead, 11 wounded. 35 shots fired, 35 people shot. One of the dead wasn’t shot; he fell from the balcony in the confusion apparently. The shooter was a dead shot, the bullets are from a handgun. JOHN Jesus. Why did no one stop him after the first couple? LESTRADE He must have used a silencer because the alarm wasn’t raised until it was all over. And the whole thing only took about one minute. No one saw where the shots came from, or even what the shooter looked like. We don’t even know if it was a man or a woman. They come to the man who fell. He’s spread eagle, his neck bent at an awkward angle. His hair is blond, and he’s in his mid-thirties. Sherlock bends down to examine him. SHERLOCK Do you have an ID on him yet? LESTRADE Not anything concrete. No wallet, no phone, only a ticket in the name “Richard Brook”, but that doesn’t mean that’s who he is. We ran his fingerprints, but nothing came up. He probably just fell by accident in the confusion, poor guy. Sherlock recognizes the name of course. Moriarty’s old alias. SHERLOCK No. LESTRADE What? SHERLOCK I don’t think it was an accident. The coat is too big for the man. The sleeves cover his hands. Sherlock pulls them up: there are marks on both of the man’s wrists where the skin is irritated, and scabbed in some places. Under the coat, the man is wearing a dirty t-shirt and stained jeans, contrasting with the neat coat. Sherlock pulls up the man’s t-shirt, revealing numerous burns and other small wounds on his torso. Sherlock stands up and pulls out his phone. He opens the Scotland Yard Missing Persons site, entering search criteria: male, mid-thirties, blond, single, reported missing up to two weeks ago. Several results pop up. Sherlock opens the first and compares the faces. Not a match. The next one isn’t either. But the third one is. Sherlock gives a tiny satisfied smile. He closes the browser and puts his phone away, then looks in the man’s pockets for anything the police missed, or found unimportant. Bingo. There’s a candy in the jacket’s pocket. He unwraps it a little and briefly tastes it. He makes a face, then stands up and displays the candy. SHERLOCK [to John] Richard Brook, “Get Sherlock”, and mercury candy. Ring any bells? Realization dawns on John. Lestrade is still lost. JOHN Is it a copycat? SHERLOCK Perhaps… [to Lestrade] Have you identified any of the other bodies yet? Found any connections? LESTRADE Yeah, we’ve gotten positive ID’s back on all of them. They don’t seem to be connected. Different ages, different races, different professions, both genders… Seems like they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sherlock bends back down to examine the man’s shoes. There’s mud caked on the bottom, as well as on the hem of the coat. Sherlock takes a plastic bag out of his pocket and puts a sample of the mud inside. He stands up and addresses Lestrade. SHERLOCK I need to get up there. He points up to the balcony. INT – CRITERION THEATRE, BALCONY – DAY Sherlock, John, and Lestrade are on the balcony. Sherlock is leaning over the edge, looking around. JOHN What are you looking for? SHERLOCK It was too well planned to be a random act of violence. There has to be a pattern. Why them? He keeps looking down at the bodies below. Something clicks. SHERLOCK I need a seating map. He and John start looking around under the seats for a map. John finds one and hands it to Sherlock. Sherlock pulls a pen out of his pocket. SHERLOCK They were here… here… here… As he talks to himself, he circles the bodies’ seats on the map, excited. He finishes and examines his work, but he doesn’t see anything there. The circles are clustered together, mostly on the left side of the theatre from their point of view. John grabs the paper from him and looks at it. JOHN Does it mean something? SHERLOCK Hopefully. He grabs the paper back from John. SHERLOCK [cont] [to Lestrade] What seats were the wounded people in? LESTRADE Um gimme a minute. He leans over the railing. LESTRADE Donovan! Anderson! Get up here! Sherlock groans. Anderson and Donovan hate his guts, and are extremely skeptical of his methods. Mostly because he used them to reveal the ongoing affair between the two of them. SHERLOCK Why them? LESTRADE [with a smile] I want to see their faces. ANDERSON, with the forensics unit, and SALLY DONOVAN, a police sergeant, enter the balcony. Anderson is carrying a clipboard. ANDERSON What do you… He notices John, and then Sherlock. ANDERSON [cont] Need… Donovan and Anderson just stare at Sherlock. They are both extremely uncomfortable. SHERLOCK [sarcastically cheerful] Hello Anderson, Donovan. DONOVAN You… You… She looks from him to Lestrade, shocked. SHERLOCK Yes, I’m alive. No thanks to you two. ANDERSON How…? You… SHERLOCK Oh, I won’t bore you with the details; we both know you wouldn’t believe me anyway. [he looks them both over] Even though I can clearly see that you two are still up to your nightly chats and floor scrubbing… DONOVAN [to Lestrade] What’s going on here? Do you remember what happened last time you let him in on a case? LESTRADE I remember what happened when we doubted him. He almost died, and we lost a valuable asset. I’ll not make that mistake again. Now I need the seat numbers that the wounded people were in. Anderson looks distrustfully at Sherlock. LESTRADE Now, Anderson! Anderson reluctantly hands over his clipboard. Sherlock eagerly snatches it from his hands and furiously marks his map again. He finishes and looks very pleased. JOHN What? What is it? SHERLOCK It IS a message. And now I know who sent it. John takes the seating map from him. The circled seats form the letters “I O U”. To John, it makes no sense; but Sherlock knows exactly what it means. JOHN “I O U”? What does it mean? SHERLOCK It means someone else has found out that I’m alive. And he isn’t happy about it… ANDERSON Can’t imagine why… Are we done here boss? LESTRADE Yeah, thanks Anderson. Anderson grabs his clipboard back from Sherlock, not kindly. He and Donovan leave the balcony. Lestrade shakes his head, smiling. LESTRADE Oh they deserved that… So, what do you have for me? SHERLOCK The shooter was Sebastian Moran. Lestrade and John look surprised at the sudden specific revelation. JOHN Ok, explain. Who’s Sebastian Moran, and how’d you work that out so fast? That’s more specific than usual. SHERLOCK He was the closest thing Moriarty ever had to a right-hand-man, to a second-in-command. Looks like he’s taken over the business. JOHN Ok… Well how did you figure out it was him? SHERLOCK There were plenty of clues pointing to someone who at least knew about my battle with Moriarty last year. Richard Brook, the mercury candy, and the message all pointed to a fan of one form or another. But this, this message, points to someone on the inside. As far as I knew, he and I were the only ones who knew about it, but apparently he told someone on his end, most likely Moran, his second in command. And Moran is an ex-sniper from the army, so the fact that the shooter had excellent aim fits as well. JOHN So what does it mean? “I O U”? SHERLOCK It was Moriarty’s promise to bring me down. “I O U” a fall, he’d say. Moran obviously meant it in the same way. LESTRADE Obviously? SHERLOCK Yes, obviously. The man who “fell” confirms it. His name is Ronald Adair, age 32, missing for 4 days. He mysteriously vanished on Monday, kidnapped by Moran. He was tortured for some reason. If it was for information or an item, Moran got what he wanted because he then brought him here at gunpoint, dressed in the coat and scarf, and pushed him off the balcony after the shooting. LESTRADE How’d you figure that out? We couldn’t even get an ID on him! SHERLOCK Chafe marks on his wrists. He’s been handcuffed recently, and for a long period of time. If his fingerprints didn’t come up in the police database, then he wasn't arrested by Scotland Yard. He was handcuffed outside the system, and obviously has been for a considerable amount of time. So, he was probably reported missing by someone. A quick search of Scotland Yard’s missing person reports confirmed that. He holds up the search results on his phone to prove his point. LESTRADE He could have been released, or escaped. SHERLOCK No, the state of his clothes proves he was fresh out of captivity. I doubt he would go straight to the theatre after such an ordeal. Besides, the ticket in his pocket proves he was still with Moran. It’s in the name of- John nods, starting to understand. JOHN Richard Brook. SHERLOCK Yes. He couldn’t have REALLY come here with Brook, he doesn’t exist. And even if he was here under an alias, it's very suggestive that he chose this particular one. Moran probably used it to draw me out more. Then there’s his scarf and the coat, which is way too big for him, meaning Moran probably made him wear it. LESTRADE Why’s that important? JOHN Sherlock, they’re… SHERLOCK [to John] Yes. [to Lestrade] Black overcoat, blue scarf. Look familiar? JOHN It’s you. Realization dawns on Lestrade. LESTRADE Ok, but why? This guy puts all these clues that he knew you’d find, and even kills a man dressed like you, but why? SHERLOCK It’s a threat. A promise. LESTRADE He killed all these people and went through all this effort just to get your attention and threaten you? Hasn’t he heard of email? SHERLOCK He didn’t know where I was, and he needed to make sure I’d hear about it. Seems like he found out I was alive quite a while ago, to plan all this. I thought I was so careful… JOHN Well, your hair is like a beacon. SHERLOCK Will you just shut up about my hair?! JOHN No, it’s hilarious. Sherlock ignores the comment. LESTRADE So do you have any idea how to find this Sebastian Moran? SHERLOCK Nope, no idea. He was careful not to leave clues of that kind. I’ll have to think on it. LESTRADE Well, at least we’ve got a suspect. That might distract the press from the message. They’ve been all over that. SHERLOCK Make sure you say that you have no leads. LESTRADE Ok, whatever. EXT – CRITERION THEATRE SIDE STREET – DAY Sherlock and John exit the theatre into the same small street they entered from. They start walking, watching for a cab. JOHN So where is he? SHERLOCK I told you, I don’t know. There were no clues. JOHN Come on, you were using your lying voice. You just don’t want Lestrade to find him before you do. SHERLOCK I don’t have a lying voice! JOHN Yes you do, I’ve heard it quite a bit. When you were on the roof of Bart’s for instance. So where do we look first? SHERLOCK Um, well, I don’t know yet. Taxi! They climb into the taxi and drive off. INT – TAXI – DAY Sherlock and John are sitting in the back of the cab, going back to Baker Street. Sherlock pulls his plastic bag of mud out of his pocket. SHERLOCK I took a sample of mud from the bottom of Adair’s coat, and his shoes. Moran didn’t think he’d left any clues, but he missed this one. And we need him to think he’s ahead, which is why we need to keep Lestrade off his scent for as long as we can. JOHN So… SHERLOCK So I can trace the mud and find out what area of the city Adair was being held. I can narrow it down from there. INT – 221B BAKER STREET – DAY John and Sherlock enter the flat, taking off their jackets. Sherlock heads into the kitchen to start on his analysis of the mud. JOHN Need me to do anything? SHERLOCK Um, yeah, if you could just not talk that would be nice. JOHN Ok then, I’m going out. Got a couple errands to run. He waits for Sherlock to respond, but there’s no answer. Sherlock’s already busy in the kitchen, pulling equipment out of cupboards, so John leaves. Sherlock has amassed a pile of forensic paraphernalia- beakers, test tubes, a microscope, etc- so he gets to work. He takes the mud sample out of his pocket and examines a small amount under the microscope. He notes the dirt’s consistency and focuses on some small white particles mixed in. There’s also particles of a reddish brown material. Rust? He puts a sample in a test tube with a liquid, which changes color when it comes in contact with the dirt. Yes, it’s rust. Sherlock seems pleased. This all appears to have taken some time. He then rushes into the other room and starts to put his coat on. John returns from his shopping trip holding a plastic bag. SHERLOCK Going to Bart’s, need to use their lab. He tries to walk past John, but John moves to block his exit. Sherlock looks at him, puzzled. JOHN Ah, not so fast. The mud can wait. SHERLOCK Well, I’m not quite as patient, so get out of the way. JOHN I will, after you use this. He pulls a bottle of dark brown hair dye out of his shopping bag. Sherlock rolls his eyes. INT – ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL, LAB – DAY John and Sherlock, with his hair now freshly dyed back to his usual dark brown, walk into the lab. He’s also wearing more familiar clothes: a button down shirt and slacks instead of his earlier wardrobe. MOLLY HOOPER is working there, and turns around as they enter. MOLLY Sherlock! You’re alive, I knew it! She runs to him and hugs him without thinking. Sherlock is uncomfortable and can’t decide whether to hug her back, so his arms move aimlessly. She then realizes what she’s done and backs away, embarrassed. MOLLY [cont] Um sorry, I didn’t mean to… I’m just… SHERLOCK Hello, Molly. He smiles one of his rare genuine smiles. She smiles back, surprised, but also pleased. JOHN Wait, how’d you know he was alive? MOLLY Oh, well I just thought… Well the things he – you – asked me to do that night, and then your brother’s request for a body that looked a lot like you… And after the things you’d said to me, I didn’t believe you’d committed suicide. You weren’t- aren’t- that kind of person. And you definitely aren’t a fake. It just made sense that you were alive… SHERLOCK [to John] See John, some people figured it out. John is about to say something, but Sherlock cuts him off. SHERLOCK [cont] Well Molly, excellent job knowing I was alive, but now I need to use some equipment. INT – ST BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL, LAB – DAY Sherlock has a new array of higher quality lab equipment spread out on a table. He puts the dirt sample in a different chemical, which also changes color and tells him that the tiny white particles in the dirt are cocaine. John is talking to Molly behind Sherlock, but we can’t hear what they’re saying. Sherlock has gotten what he needed though, and grabs his coat off another table. SHERLOCK Come on John, I’m done. He leaves the room quickly. JOHN [to Molly] Oh, I guess he’s done… Bye. He hurries out the door after Sherlock. EXT – ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL – DAY Sherlock and John exit the building and start walking back to Baker street. John’s phone rings and he answers it. JOHN Hello? … Yeah just a sec. He holds the phone out to Sherlock. JOHN [cont] It’s Lestrade. He doesn’t have your new number, so he called me- SHERLOCK Ok, fine I don’t really care. He takes the phone from John. SHERLOCK Yes? What did you find? Cut to INT – SCOTLAND YARD, LESTRADE’S OFFICE - DAY Lestrade is sitting at his desk, looking at security footage on his computer. LESTRADE We looked at the security footage from the theatre’s parking area. SHERLOCK [OS] And? What did you find? LESTRADE Adair WAS driven there with someone else, and held at gunpoint. Lestrade glances at the screen, where the footage is playing. A man, presumed to be Moran, is clearly holding Adair at gunpoint. Cut to EXT – ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL – DAY SHERLOCK Yes, I already knew that. Anything actually useful? Cut to INT – SCOTLAND YARD, LESTRADE’S OFFICE - DAY LESTRADE Yes, if you’d let me talk. He was driving a black Lexus. We’re running the plates- There’s a click as Sherlock hangs up. LESTRADE Sherlock? Sherlock? Lestrade puts the phone down, annoyed. LESTRADE Why does he always do that? Cut to EXT – ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL – DAY Sherlock returns John's phone, then opens a map of London on his own phone and starts scanning it. John, still walking beside Sherlock, looks at him expectantly. JOHN Well? What did they find? SHERLOCK Just what I needed. John walks silently beside him for a moment, waiting for an explanation that isn’t coming. He checks his watch absently. JOHN Damn it! Sherlock looks up from his phone in surprise. SHERLOCK What?! JOHN I had a lunch date 20 minutes ago! John quickly hails a cab, leaving Sherlock alone on the sidewalk. INT – HARRY’S FLAT – DAY Harry is sitting on her couch, watching TV. She looks at her watch and sighs. Suddenly there’s a knock on the door, and she hurries to answer. It’s John. She lets him in. JOHN Harry, I’m so sorry I’m late- HARRY Don’t worry about it, it’s fine! I’m sure you’re plenty busy with the new flat and all. Come on, I’ve got lunch ready. She leads him from the door to the tiny corner that serves as a dining room. INT – HARRY’S FLAT – DAY John and Harry are sitting at the table still, dirty dishes and empty cups in front of them. JOHN So you’re keeping out of trouble, are you? HARRY Yes, of course. I’ve been sober since you put me on that regiment! You know, I think living together helped both of us… JOHN Yeah, definitely. Living alone has taken some getting used to… HARRY Well it had to be done. This flat wasn’t meant for two people... So how are your new neighbors? Nosy? Rude? JOHN No they’re actually not bad. And honestly, I think I could live with anything after- Sherlock barges in, throwing the door wide open and making both John and Harry jump. He has returned to his normal look, adding his ratty blue scarf to his previous look. JOHN What the…? SHERLOCK John I have it, it’s an old warehouse just outside the west end! Come on, your girlfriend can survive for a couple hours without you! HARRY I’m not his girlfriend! And who are you, to come barging in my house like that?! John! Sherlock looks over Harry. John opens his mouth to explain, but- SHERLOCK No, not girlfriend, I should have looked closer. Sister. Harry Watson. I always get you wrong for some reason… Nice to meet you Harry, sorry about the door. I’m Sherlock Holmes. Now come on John! Harry is shocked. HARRY Sher… Sherlock Holmes? John, that’s… She looks a bit unsteady. SHERLOCK Oh no, are you going to faint too? JOHN Shut up, Sherlock. Yes, Harry, it’s him. HARRY [to John] But he died! [to Sherlock] Wait, who fainted? SHERLOCK John. JOHN [at the same time as Sherlock] No one. Harry smirks. HARRY You fainted, John? Sherlock smirks too. SHERLOCK Yes. JOHN [at the same time as Sherlock] No. Harry giggles softly. JOHN [to Sherlock] What did you find that’s so bloody important? SHERLOCK I found where Adair was being held. We need to leave now! I have a cab waiting. Harry has stopped giggling. HARRY John, what’s going on? JOHN Sorry, I’ll explain later, I promise. Gotta go. He grabs his coat and rushes out the door with Sherlock. INT – CAB – DAY Sherlock and John are sitting in a cab. Sherlock is looking out the window anxiously while John quietly watches. JOHN That was very rude of you. Sherlock doesn’t answer; he just keeps looking out the window. JOHN [cont] How did you know where I was anyway? Sherlock turns from the window. SHERLOCK I followed you. JOHN You followed me? Why-? I didn’t see anything! SHERLOCK That’s what I’d expect you to see when I follow you. You never see me. No one does. JOHN What do you mean “I never see you”? How often do you follow me? SHERLOCK Oh, I haven’t in a while, but I did a lot right after I died. JOHN You- Why?! SHERLOCK I had to make sure Moriarty would keep his promise not to kill you. JOHN Wha- you… He sighs, there’s no point in arguing. JOHN [cont] So, what, you followed me for no reason and then waited outside for an hour? SHERLOCK No, that would be a waste of time. I’m on a case John! I gathered intel from my homeless network. Hence my sudden entry. The cab slows. They’ve reached their destination. EXT – WAREHOUSE – EVENING Sherlock and John climb out of the taxi. John looks around. They’re in a dreadfully trashy neighborhood. There are countless “For Rent” signs in windows and stained blankets covering decrepit people on the sidewalks. The cab has parked right in front of a huge abandoned warehouse with boarded windows and graffitied walls. John tries to conceal his disgust. JOHN [in an undertone to Sherlock] You always find such lovely parts of town. John turns away and pays the cab driver. Sherlock approaches a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk under a grubby blanket and talks quietly with him. John finishes paying, and returns to Sherlock and the homeless man. The conversation ceases. JOHN Well? SHERLOCK Here, you might need this. Sherlock pulls John’s gun out of a pocket in his coat. John grabs it and stows it in his waistband. JOHN Thoughtful of you. Sherlock smirks, then heads down an alley to the side of the warehouse, and John follows. INT – WAREHOUSE – EVENING Sherlock is standing in front of a window, which John is still climbing through. He lands heavily on the ground, and dusts himself off. The inside of the cavernous warehouse is gloomy, dark, and dusty. The only light source is the window they just came through. There are huge crates forming tall avenues and passages that loom in the gloom. Sherlock pulls two flashlights out of his pocket and hands one to John, who also pulls out his gun and checks that it’s loaded. He keeps it in his hand, just in case. They venture into the darkness, talking quietly; the imposing darkness seems to insist on it. JOHN How’d you know this was the right place? SHERLOCK The mud sample from Adair’s coat had pollen and soil consistent with London, particularly this end of the city. There were also traces of powdered cocaine, so it had to be a trashy part of town. There were traces of rust as well, which said old building, most likely abandoned. It had to be a large building with few neighbors because of the torture, so it couldn’t be in a heavily populated area. Moran wouldn’t have wanted Adair’s screams to be heard, so he needed a large space to conceal them. Finally, Moran drove to the theatre in a black Lexus. Those aren’t too common in this area, so it was easy for my homeless network to find the place for me. JOHN Wow. Sherlock looks at him in surprise. SHERLOCK I’d forgotten you do that. JOHN Ha, no you didn’t. That’s part of the reason you asked me to help. “Genius needs an audience”, you told me once. You’ve missed having an audience. They come to an intersection in the paths between the towers of crates. Sherlock suddenly notices something on the floor. SHERLOCK Look. He points his flashlight at the ground. There’s scuffed footprints in the thick layer of dust covering the ground, leading right, towards the front of the warehouse. SHERLOCK [cont] Two sets. The clearer set is Moran. He was walking behind Adair with the gun, and Adair’s prints were smudged by the dragging coat. He turns left, pursuing the tracks to their source. John follows. The trail leads them through many twists and turns, forcing them to change directions numerous times. Sherlock is totally focused on the ground, muttering to himself every now and then. John follows warily, his gun at the ready. He scans constantly as the wan light disappears due to the setting sun and boarded windows. Sherlock stops once to look more closely at the ground. John peers into the distance behind them. He notices something on the crates behind them. JOHN Sherlock. Sherlock stands up at John’s voice. Just as he moves, a gun fires and slams into the crate where Sherlock’s head had been moments earlier. John and Sherlock both throw themselves to the ground. JOHN [cont] He’s on top of the crates, I saw him. SHERLOCK Split up, confuse him. If I’m right, which I usually am, he’s here alone. He can’t follow both of us. They turn their flashlights off to avoid being seen. SHERLOCK One, two, three! They both jump up and run in opposite directions, Sherlock still following the tracks and John running towards the place he saw the shooter. John reaches the crates and starts climbing. Sherlock continues following the tracks, still hoping, in the midst of the danger, to find where they lead. He seems to have a decent idea where they are headed now, since he runs without checking the ground as much. He jumps as another bullet sprays wood splinters into his face, cutting his cheek. John heard the gunshot and knows that the shooter is after Sherlock and not himself. He climbs faster and pulls himself to the top, staying on his stomach and keeping his gun in front of him. He scans the tops of the crates for the shooter. He sees a dim silhouette near the back of the warehouse. He crouches and heads towards the figure. Sherlock is still running, wiping blood from the cut on his cheek. He comes to a long corridor of crates that ends in a large steel door. Triumphant, he runs down the corridor to the door and attempts to force it open, but it’s too strong. Then from behind him comes- SEBASTIAN MORAN Very good, you finally found it. Sherlock slowly turns around to face him. Moran is older, in his late forties. His head is bald and gleams in the darkness. Down the left side of his face are three parallel scars: claw marks. He slowly approaches Sherlock, holding a large rifle aloft. MORAN You changed your hair back. Lucky for you. That ghastly color would have glowed in here and made my job a lot easier. SHERLOCK Sebastian Moran. We meet at last. MORAN Yes, it will be your last. I didn’t believe you’d take the bait so well. Moriarty always makes you sound so clever, so invincible. But I guess he’s wrong, for once. I’m going to beat you right now, finish what he started. And keep Moriarty’s secret safe. Who else have you told? Your precious Dr. Watson? Sherlock is genuinely confused. SHERLOCK Secret? I honestly have no clue what you’re talking about. MORAN Fine, if you don’t want to talk, I can just kill him too. I was going to anyway. He levels the rifle, aiming for Sherlock’s heart. Sherlock looks around wildly for an escape or a weapon, but no luck. He’s too far away to launch an attack in time. He’s trapped and he knows it. Just as Moran squeezes the trigger and the rifle fires, there’s a second gunshot. Moran is thrown to the side as a bullet slams into his right hip. John jumps on him from the stack of crates. The rifle skids across the floor, out of reach. Moran hits John in the head, and is able to escape his grasp. He runs down the corridor of crates. John tries to shoot him again a few times, but he’s disorientated from the blow and misses. He turns away from the escaping Moran to face Sherlock. JOHN Come on, we can still catch him. I hit him once. Sherlock is leaning against the wall of crates. JOHN [cont] Are you alright? Sherlock doesn’t answer. He’s breathing heavy and clutching his right shoulder. Then he collapses to his knees. JOHN Oh God… John quickly runs over to help. He makes Sherlock sit with his back against the crates. SHERLOCK [weakly] I’m fine. It didn’t hit any major organs… JOHN No, you’re obviously not fine. He takes his flashlight back out of his pocket and turns it on. JOHN [cont] It might have hit a major artery. Here. John helps Sherlock take off his coat to get a better look. Sherlock’s shirt is soaked with blood, so John unbuttons it too. The wound is slightly below Sherlock’s right collarbone. John wads up Sherlock’s scarf and uses it to staunch the thick, glistening blood flow. JOHN [cont] Can you hold that there? I need to check your back. Sherlock weakly nods and holds the scarf in place. He leans forward slightly so John can see his back. John aims the flashlight at Sherlock’s back and sucks in his breath. There’s another rapidly growing bloodstain on Sherlock’s right shoulder. He places the flashlight on the ground so he can use two hands. It casts a narrow beam into the inky darkness. JOHN [cont] Ok, I need to take your shirt off so I can use it to block this one. Sherlock nods, and John helps him out of his shirt. SHERLOCK Now you’re the one taking off my clothes in the dark… John smiles at Sherlock’s weak remark. At least he’s still got his sense of humor. JOHN Yes, aren’t we lucky there never seems to be anyone around to see? Sherlock smiles weakly. John has taken the shirt off. He quickly folds it into a messy square and holds it over the jagged hole in Sherlock’s back. JOHN [cont] Ok, now I need you to lie down. He helps Sherlock get onto his back. John makes sure the folded shirt is wadded up under Sherlock’s shoulder. When he’s down, John takes back the scarf and applies pressure to the front wound. Then he fishes in his pocket for his phone and dials. JOHN Come on, come on… Lestrade, it’s John. Sherlock’s been shot. We’re in an abandoned warehouse on Nine Elms, near the Thames. Send an ambulance quick. And you might want to come too, we’ve found something. He pauses, listening. JOHN [cont] Look I’ll explain later, just hurry up and send the ambulance! He’s losing blood fast! Thank you! He hangs up and looks at his phone, which is covered with Sherlock’s blood. JOHN [cont] You owe me a new phone. He notices that Sherlock is on the verge of passing out. He presses harder on the scarf. JOHN [cont] No come on, stay with me! There’s an ambulance on the way. You’re going to be fine. I’m not going to lose you again!

BOB THURBER: Weathering Another Day of Missing Her

Some aches, like some days, were worse than others. He swallowed a pill to make himself sunny, but within hours the clouds were back. He practiced his breathing. Meanwhile, real clouds, gray and big as mountains, bumped against the window. Some kind of wild bird was cawing in the trees. Bob Thurber is the author … Continue reading BOB THURBER: Weathering Another Day of Missing Her →

SHAW CHEN: Reintegration

The livestream of his daughter’s birth crawled; he didn’t recognize himself in the black flicker. Just earlier he shot a child who had pointed a gun at him. Watched the hate and fear fade from his eyes. She’s now the only part of him that still belongs in this world. Shaw Chen is a USAF … Continue reading SHAW CHEN: Reintegration →


We lie around the pool, melting, burning, toasting, marinating. Nobody speaks, except for one woman berating her husband for not using sunscreen. Later the waiter tells us they’ve been coming to this same hotel for twenty years. Well, twenty-three if you count the years since he died of skin cancer. Tom O’Brien is an Irishman … Continue reading TOM O’BRIEN: SPF →

DON NOEL: The Ring

Jason spotted it as he pulled radishes: big diamond. The house’s former owner had asked him to watch for it. His wife, the gardener, had fallen. Hand ballooned; ring cut off. In early Alzheimer’s, she forgot where she’d put it. Two years ago now. Looks valuable. Let it stay lost. Retired after four decades’ prizewinning … Continue reading DON NOEL: The Ring →


A man wrote a song and died. Trembling, the song tried to sing herself. Each day she practised, flexing melodic limbs, strengthening pale notes, until she came to understand discordant beauty. That day, her song spilled into rivers and comet trails, spread throughout galaxies. The universe leaned in to listen. Lisa Alletson is an emerging … Continue reading LISA ALLETSON: Discordant →