Her hand, small and white in mine, was still. She was still. Her breath coming and going, how many days she would have to live I dared not to think. I had left her, o God! I had left her.
I returned to the tables again, into the warm and stinking atmosphere at Mad Ryan’s, where I lost money without care, drank too much, smoked too much and in the morning hours, tired and in dire need of a bath and a few hours sleep I saw him again.
Or I thought it to be him, my dear boy. A slender, dark haired figure, standing with his back to me. He was wearing the boots Holmes had always worn when we had been on the hunt together, but turning around it was just a stable boy, or a cab driver.
Every time I felt relieved from a burden, not to have him back, not to see him again, for what was I to do if he would return? He was dead. Dead.
Mary. I hurried home, just to find her still alive, her breath shallow and uneven, pale and fragile, pristine white face on white linen sheets. An angel in life and soon in heaven.
The mare shifted from one leg to the other, I, sitting like an ancient knight on her back, fixed the city I had left over three years ago. Vienna.
A heavy, dark hooded cloak and the warmth of the beast had lulled my senses. I had a revolver with me to protect myself against wolves and other more dangerous species.
Colonel Moran had given up after I had left the European continent. I would have wagered Watson’s snake wood stick that he would never give up hunting me. Maybe he thought me dead anyway.
But then… what was left of me? My legs too weak to carry me by my own, the once sharp senses dulled and useless. I wasn’t a hunter anymore. Just a primitive creature seeking shelter in hay-filled barns, no longer able to beg for the food people gave me to calm their own conscience rather than my hunger.
The devil had left signs for me. He wanted me to find him, obviously. In the crowded streets of Vienna I followed him, a tall, dark stranger, dressed as a gentleman, a cylinder, tinted glasses, finest silk and gloves, accompanied by a giant white dog.
He was a noble creature, but even I with my diminished senses could feel that there was something evil, devilish about him. He walked in broad daylight, although the Roma had told me everything they knew about vampires.
These creatures can drink the blood of humans, but more often than not eat normal food instead. They are not benevolent by any means however. Not only do they suck out the life force, they spread disease.
A vampire may also be a soul in revolt against the natural order of the universe, one who doesn't wish to relinquish his material body at death and thus returns to walk the earth. The incidents of vampire attacks increase as does an epidemic since anyone who is killed by one, becomes one.
So it’ll be then, I thought, my jaw set, forcing the mare into movement. One last great deed to free mankind from this villain, my own existence forfeit in the task.
I sold the beast for a few coins, took the money and found a corner under a wooden stair where I laid my head to rest, my body too exhausted to notice the icy rain that replaced the snow for a short while, covering everything in a silver glaze.
I could have died that night, but some force denied me an easy way to pass from this world, it was him who found me first. His preternatural senses must have led him to me. Against my own will my body followed his tall figure, descending into a dark narrow street.
It was calm, not much snow had found its way down here. The cobblestones could still be seen, swept clean by the wind.
The pistol was in my right hand, and I swaying on my feet. I tried to focus, my limbs frozen, ice in my hair, on my face. I heard a voice inside my head.
“I know what you long for. I can set you free… Sherlock Holmessss.” Hissing like a snake his mind wound around my brain
“No!” I croaked.
“Give in, surrender, you can not win, this game you cannot win.”
“Then I will die killing you!”
Laughter sounded like an echo from wall to wall, pushing me with my back against the bricks.
“We all must die, Mr. Holmes. I died, but yet I still live. You died, Moriarty died, you will die as will your… friend… Dr. Watson.”
“No!” I cried, I flung myself at him. He vanished into thin air, torturing me further with his hellish laughter and thoughts of my dear Watson dying, alone, in grief over his wife and me.
“No!” The shot ricochet in the street, I felt his hands in my hair, baring my throat, fangs like that of a snake, glistening in the eerie light and then – a sharp pain. He bit me, I struggled, but soon a weakness overwhelmed me leaving me utterly helpless, still clutching at his clothes… my back to the wall, heart beating at a frantic pace, the creature near cold and without breath... I saw lights, green and golden, a fire work, I had to smile. Watson has always loved the fire work.
I closed my eyes, knowing that this time my death would be in vain.
The glass shattered on the marble floor.
I cringed and found myself kneeling in shards and Scotch, one hand on the table, the other gripping the shirt over my heart.
‘Holmes’ I thought. Something terrible must have happened! What can possibly happen to a dead man? He wasn’t dead! He was still alive, was he not? Taking a deep breath I stood up again, one trembling hand still on the table:
I lifted my chin. Mycroft! He had to see Mycroft. Immediately!
Snow in my hair, on my forehead, on my eyelids, in my mouth, snow covering my body like a thick blanket.
I felt nothing, but I heard everything, smelled everything, saw everything.
Slowly, very slow, I heaved my torso up, the snow falling down from my back, from my shoulders, my head. Even with my eyes closed I could detect everything. A hundred thrumming sounds, every single one in its own rhythm, dripping, clicking, ringing noises surrounding me, the smell of snow and the soot underneath, horse dung, frozen, dirt, the smoke of a thousand fires in the air…
I stood up, my cloak like a shield, frozen sweat peeling off of me like scales. I touched my face – ice, I couldn’t feel the touch itself. What had happened?
My mind scanned my body. Everything was intact and complete. I moved my fingers, plucking imaginary chords, playing a violin again. My shoulder didn’t hurt anymore. No pain, no hunger, no thirst! I felt like a divine being.
A human weapon, the weapon I had always dreamt to be. Accurate, efficient without making any sound. So what was wrong? The realisation hit me like a hammer: I wasn’t breathing any more. There was no heartbeat. I had become a vampire.