The Dark Murder

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Takes place during season 2 of the BBC series Sherlock.

****

"Sherlock you have got to choose something, we haven't had a case in weeks," John Watson said as he sat down in his chair holding a fresh cup of tea. Sherlock Holmes sat across from him, his hands folded neatly under his chin and a look on his face that told John that he was thinking. "Sherlock," he said again.

"Yes, John, we haven't had a case in a very long time, but everything people come to me with is just so very boring," Sherlock said, looking up.

John gave him a look. "A woman came in saying that her husband dropped dead after coming home from work, with no apparent health problems."

"As I said," Sherlock replied flatly, "boring. It's so obvious even you should have gotten it." John gave him a puzzled look. "Oh, come on, John. Poison! The man goes to work in the morning perfectly healthy. He works in an office building, so there are refreshments there. He picks up a coffee on his way in, having no time to have made one in the morning because he was running late. He leaves it on his desk to meet with his boss in her room. The person who this man has been hateful to for most of his career sits only two rows away with a mind to rid the world of this man. He had purchased a tablet of a lethal poison with delayed effects. He dissolves it in this man's coffee as he walks by and by the time the man walks into his home at the end of the day the poison has taken effect and he is as good as dead. You can't tell me you didn't see that."

"No, sorry, I did not." John sipped at his tea, wincing slightly when it burned his tongue. "But it doesn't matter, you just have to choose something. I'll check the online requests."

Without waiting for an answer, John set his tea on the table beside him and pushed himself to his feet. Opening his computer, John scrolled through e-mails and comments on his blog, searching for something that would appeal to Sherlock. "One man says that his 19-year-old son was killed in a car crash, but he doesn't think that it was an accident. He says it was planned."

"The engine light was on in his car, he didn't know what it meant so he ignored it, like teenagers do, and he lost control of the car on a highway and spun into another car, causing the collision. Next."

"A woman says her house is haunted by the ghost of her late husband. She says that she hears noises in the night and someone calling her name. She also insists that the ghost killed her cat."

"Old woman, old house, old cat. Nothing's happening, she is just hearing things and the cat died of old age. Next."

"This girl says that her father was killed in his home and nobody knows why or how. The body looks like it was ripped to shreds by wild animals, but none of the locks or windows are broken. There was also no murder weapon found, and no prints or other indications that someone had been there. The only thing the found were traces of sulphur near the body and on some of the window panes."

"Many serial killers leave marks of sorts to show they were there."

John turned towards him. "Maybe, but sulphur? I've never heard of something like that before. It won't hurt to invite the girl over to talk to her."

Sherlock looked slightly irritated to talk to another person, but he nodded anyways.

****

Half an hour later, John opened the door for the girl, resisting the urge to straighten the knocker that hung crooked underneath the brass lettering that read 221B. "Hi Melanie, thanks for coming on such short notice."

"No," Melanie replied shyly, "I should really be thanking you for seeing me. I wasn't sure if Mr.Holmes would find my story interesting enough to bother with me."

John smiled slightly. Sherlock hadn't actually found it interesting, John had insisted on seeing her. "Well, he's right up these stairs. Let me show you." And they started up the stairs to where Sherlock was waiting.

"Ah, Madeline, glad you could join us. Have a seat," Sherlock said in fake cheerfulness as they arrived.

"Um, it's Melanie," she said quietly when she had perched herself delicately on the edge of the chair that was provided for her.

"Right. Anyways, tell us everything."

"Uh..." She began, obviously scared by all the attention. "My... My father was, um... I found him, in his apartment, when I went to visit him... and, uh..." she trailed off.

"Spit it out! I haven't got all day!" Sherlock said just a little too sharply. Melanie jumped, her eyes wide and frightened.

"M-Maybe I shouldn't have come... "

"No, please," John said, jumping up to stop her from leaving. "Sherlock didn't mean to be so rude--"

"I didn't?" Sherlock interrupted.

"No, he didn't. And he's going to apologize." John stressed the word to indicate to Sherlock that he wasn't kidding. Sherlock glared at him, but obeyed.

"I am very sorry, Madison, please sit down and finish your story," he said, in a rather monotone voice. It was not at all convincing, but Melanie sat once more.

"It's Melanie," she said.

"What is?" replied Sherlock.

"My name."

"Why is that important?"

Melanie opened her mouth to say something, but just glanced at John. He gave her an apologetic smile and nodded at her to continue her story.

"I was going to visit my father, and I, uh," Melanie said. "I found him on the floor. He was b-barely recognizable, b-because of all the ripped... ripped flesh and... blood, so much blood." She looked at her hands. "It looked like a wolf had got him, which was... impossible. W-When I called the police, they couldn't find anything... just sulphur. T-They didn't even... find any finger prints..."

Sherlock didn't reply to her, he just stared, obviously deducing something about her. John jumped in instead. "Is that all you saw? Just what you said to the police?"

She looked unsure for a moment. "Yes," she said finally, "yes that's all."

John wasn't convinced. He couldn't usually tell if a person was lying, but he could see that Melanie definitely was. "Are you positive?" he pressed. "Because the more information we get, the faster we can solve the case."

"Well..." she said slowly. "I suppose there is one thing... but it will sound rather crazy."

"Crazy is perfectly fine."

"Um... well, when I saw my dad... I also s-saw another person, a man. He looked at me when I came in, and th-then I could have sworn he j-just... disappeared, into thin air"

John and Sherlock had nothing to say to that for a moment. But she looked so expectant, like she knew they could help her. John was about to say something when Sherlock began to talk.

"It's just another murder," he said. "Nothing special. You were probably shocked by your dad's death that it seemed like the man disappeared, and the police are so stupid they wouldn't have found the prints if they were being waved under their noses."

This time, Melanie seemed to gain more courage. "But you don't understand, Mr. Holmes," she said  without a stutter, "the man had black  eyes."

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