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Without a Trace by ad astra
Chapter 3: Angels
John wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes. The man – the ‘cop,’ Terence Blakely – had simply vanished without a trace. And he could have sworn the statue had moved.
Sherlock had run ahead, already standing in the spot where Terence had disappeared.
“Did you…see that?” John panted, catching up.
“Don’t always believe everything you see, John,” Sherlock replied crisply, and John was suddenly reminded of the Baskerville hound case. Like that time, Sherlock had seen something that was clearly impossible, and didn’t trust his own senses. John was beginning to feel rather unnerved himself. There was no way any man could have disappeared that quickly.
“What’s going on?” Lestrade asked, jogging up to them. “Thought we heard someone yelling for help.”
“You did,” Sherlock replied. “A man, pretending to be a police officer named Terence Blakely. Vanished about a minute ago, right here.”
“Vanished?” Lestrade repeated. “What do you mean, vanished?”
“I mean he was here, Inspector, and now he’s not,” Sherlock said with strained patience. “Can’t be that hard to find, he’s wearing a police uniform and he’s somewhere near here, so long as he’s abiding by the laws of physics.”
“What’s he doing wearing a police uniform?”
“I don’t know, perhaps you should ask him once you find him.”
“Right, okay,” Lestrade said, already walking back. “Guys, we’re looking for a man in a police uniform, says he’s called Terence Blakely!”
“D’you think that’s how the others disappeared?” John asked.
“What do you mean, ‘how the others disappeared’? We don’t know how this one disappeared, we just know that he did.” Sherlock exhaled through gritted teeth. “We saw it happen, John. Where was the kidnapper, did he turn invisible?”
“You don’t think it’s got anything to do with those statues, does it?” John asked.
“Oh yes! Of course! The statues! They followed him, didn’t they, John? Followed him and zapped him into another dimension!” Sherlock threw his hands in the air. “Do me a favour and stop talking, John. Theories don’t suit you.”
Sherlock stalked off into the rain. John watched him go, wondering, as he often did, how he even managed to put up with the man, before trudging back to the carpark to talk to Lestrade.
If Terry had indeed managed to Apparate, he’d done something either very wrong or very elaborate, because he appeared to be in the wrong century.
He glanced around at the horses and carriages, at the men in bowler hats and waistcoats and the women in crinoline dresses.
The nineteenth century, to be exact.
What the hell happened?
Suddenly aware he was in the presence of Muggles, Terry stowed his wand back inside his sleeve, wishing he was wearing something a little less conspicuous. What had that statue done to him? Sent him back in time?
He tried to fight his rising sense of panic. He just needed to find the Ministry of Magic, that was all. They’d be able to send him back – the Department of Mysteries was established in 1808, and though he didn’t know a lot about history, he could hazard a guess to say he was a few decades later than that. It would just be a matter of finding the Ministry from here, which would be rather difficult considering he lived in Yorkshire and had no knowledge of London whatsoever save the alleyway he Apparated into on his way to work and the front of the Leaky Cauldron.
Neither of which were likely to look anything like how he knew them.
Would they be able to send him back? Terry racked his brains, trying to remember when time turners had been invented – it had been written in an obscure little book in the Hogwarts library that he pretended to read for two hours when he was fifteen in the hope a particular girl would notice him. It wasn’t the best way to get a girl’s attention, hiding in a library reading books, but Terry had been reliably informed the girl was looking for ‘a quiet, intelligent boy.’ She’d later gone out with the captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team.
He wondered what Susan Bones was up to these days.
Aware he was getting plenty of weird looks from passing Victorian Muggles already, Terry decided his best bet, if he couldn’t find the Ministry, would be to bring the Ministry to him. He raised his arm, waited until he had an audience, and levitated a nearby horse and carriage onto the top of a building.
“Oh, I don’t believe this,” Lestrade muttered under his breath.
John glanced up to see a strange man walking towards them. Sherlock would have been able to read his entire life story in seconds, of course, but all John had to go on was that he was wearing a bow tie, tweed jacket and friendly smile, and was most definitely not part of the investigation.
“Sorry,” Lestrade said firmly, intercepting the man before he could come any closer. “Crime scene.”
“Yes. Crime scene, yes. That’s why I’m here. Detective-Inspector John Smith of Scotland Yard.” The man pulled a police ID from his pocket, flashing it in Lestrade’s face.
Lestrade peered at it, handing it back to the man and offering his hand. “Detective-Inspector Greg Lestrade. Scotland Yard. Now, who are you and what the hell are you doing here?”
“Right. Sorry. Always a bit of a gamble, that one. My name’s the Doctor, actually. I’m a sort of…freelance detective, no affiliation.”
Lestrade folded his arms. “What, like a consulting detective?”
“Yes!” The Doctor beamed. “Exactly like a consulting detective. That’s me.”
“Nice try, but there’s only one of those in the world and he’s over there.” Lestrade jerked his head in Sherlock’s direction. “One more time, who are you?”
“All right, but don’t say you didn’t ask. I’m a time travelling alien come to save you from the statues.”
Sherlock leaned forward, propping his elbows on the cold, hard surface of the table and studying the face of the man before him. He could deduce very little from the Doctor – he had offered no other name – but far from feeling uneasy or disconcerted by this, Sherlock relished the challenge. Anyone clever enough to mask the details of his life from prying eyes – yes, this would be worth his time. Someone interesting. Oh, how he’d missed this. He steepled his fingers, eyes flicking over the Doctor’s face and clothes like they had a hundred times already. Yes, this man was clever, mysterious – but that was nothing new. Irene Adler had been clever, but not clever enough to win against him. Moriarty had been clever – but not clever enough to survive.
Whatever the Doctor was hiding, Sherlock would find it. That was how it went.
“What were you doing in the cemetery?” Sherlock asked.
“The statues. Well, that was the plan, didn’t expect to be taken in for questioning.”
“You walked onto a crime scene and pretended to be from Scotland Yard when they’re the ones heading the investigation,” Sherlock said sharply. “Who did you think you were fooling?”
“Psychic paper usually works.”
“Psychic paper?” Sherlock scoffed. “And what’s that supposed to be?”
The Doctor passed over a piece of paper inside a leather cover. “Have a look at it and tell me what you see.”
“Nothing, it’s just a blank piece of paper.”
“Really? Now that’s interesting.”
“Nine hundred years of time and space and a human’s never done that to me before.”
“You say that like you’re not human.”
“Really.” A hint of amusement crept into Sherlock’s voice. “Not human. I’ve heard that claim from a number of people who think they’re special when they’re not. Who think they’re geniuses because they surround themselves with idiots, or who pretend they don’t have emotions because they’ve figured out how to hide them. No, Doctor, you are human. Let’s start again, shall we? Your name, please.”
“That’s not a name.”
“Yes it is, it’s my name. Next question, please.”
“Where are you from, Doctor?”
“And where is that?”
“It’s a planet, located within the constellation of Kasterborous, galactic co-ordinates 10-0-11-0-0 by 0-2 from galactic zero centre. Two hundred and fifty million light years from Earth and destroyed in the Time War, next question.”
Sherlock stared at him for a long moment. “All right, fine. You said you were investigating the statues, what is there to investigate?”
“You were in that graveyard all morning, you’re a clever man, you tell me. What did you notice about them?”
“Somebody’s been moving them.”
“Wrong. They’re moving themselves. They’re not just ordinary statues, they’re Weeping Angels. A species of winged humanoids from the dawn of time who are scattered all round the universe. They’re psychopaths, killers, and they’re right in the middle of London. You’ve been investigating, Sherlock Holmes, but you’ll never find the answers because you’ve been looking in the wrong places. You are not alone. Humans are not alone. There are monsters invading your world and monsters who have inhabited it since the dawn of time and you’re oblivious to it because you don’t want to believe. You’re afraid of what might happen if you do, what you might see. Open your eyes to the universe, Sherlock, and start with me.”
“Start with you?” Sherlock repeated.
“I’m the Doctor. I’m nine hundred and eighty three years old, the last of the Time Lords from the planet Gallifrey. I travel through time and space in a little blue box that’s bigger on the inside and I am the only person who can save you from the angels. You may think I’m lying or insane – and you’d be right about the second one – but if you choose not to believe me then they will keep on killing you and destroying you and there is nothing you can do about it.” The Doctor leaned back in his chair. “And don’t think for a moment I’m going to let that happen.”
Sherlock leaned forward, eyes fixed on the Doctor as he delivered his trump card.