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Amnesty#1: Keelhauled!
Eliot, Leaf
the_aleator
Title: Keelhauled!
Author: the_aleator
Rating: PG
Characters: Watson, mentions of Lestrade & Holmes
Verse: ACD/Granada
Word count: 698
A/N: Amnesty #1: An over the top peril or cliffhanger.
Warnings:  Note - unbetaed and unedited & completely rushed. Complete crack!
Summary: Watson is in rather a pickle.


Keelhauled!

Precisely how Sherlock Holmes came to be involved in the dreadful case of the guttersnipe and the pirate’s peg leg is practically without peer, indeed, the labyrinthine way by which Dr. Watson came to be perusing the docks on the Thames that particular October night is both long-winded and slightly at odds with the official Scotland Yard version, and thus shall not be recounted here.

Should it be endeavored to ask Inspector Lestrade, he shall be more than willing to narrate, particularly those parts involving his friend the Doctor.

That particular night in October, the yellow light of lantern was shining into the Doctor’s eyes as he was being accosted against the railing of ship both studiously grimy and selectively legal.

“Who are you?” The tall, dark man growled, shoving his lantern directly into Watson’s face, while he poked a gun barrel into his belly. “And why are you lurking about the Caroline?”

“I am Dr. John Watson, and I am not lurking! I have come to see Captain Simpson of the Caroline.”

“And what is your business with him?” The man snarled, his overgrown whiskers looking much like the muzzle of an ill-groomed wolf. “For you seem nothing more than a common skulker.”

“I am a gentleman.” Watson protested hotly, struggling against his cord restraints. Simpson laughed in his face, betraying two gold teeth, and retorted

“Aboard my ship, sir, you are a little more than a common stowaway.” Simpson mused, and took a step backwards, as Watson slumped against the railing, feeling his perils drawing close about him, much like sharks about a wounded seal .

Walking a little distance down the ship’s deck, Simpson turned backed with a puff of smoke against the sodden and dark night air. “Take him down to the hold for now.” He stroked his beard meditatively, and mused “Time to deal with the Doctor later.”

That later was much too soon for Watson, who managed to accumulate several splinters, as well as a belt about the head, but not an escape. The ruffians stripped him of his coat and jacket, bound him again, and then without standing on ceremony, pushed him over the side.

Watson held back a gasp of fear, as he dangled over the ship’s bow, ankles and wrists held cruelly tight by the ropes.

“Never been keel-hauled before, I’ll bet, Doctor. I suppose I shall a place in your story now, sir.” The pale lamplight shone black and gold on Simpson’s teeth as he smiled broadly, and concluded in a stage whisper calculated to reach every crew member’s cruel ears. “If you survive, that is.”

With a nod of his head, the sailors began to drag Watson down the ship’s keel, and he sucked in a desperately full breath as the cold, dark waters of the Thames began to approach with an ominous lapping sound.

The sound of the Thames and scraping off the ropes against the sides of the ship were the only echoes of an otherwise nasty business, and Simpson drew out his pipe in contentment, satisfied that even now he had removed his predicament, in a most cruel and nautical fashion.

Suddenly though, the ropes went slack.

“He’s done for, then.” One of the sailors said idly, and then spat on the deck. “Poor sod.” Simpson stalked over to the railing, peering at the dark water lapping against the rusty hull, and shook his head in thought.

“Haul him up.” Simpson commanded, and his two burly crewmen did so, turning back in astonishment at the two dripping wet lines, with no presence of the doctor to be seen.

“Damn you!” Simpson howled out into the night, seizing ahold of the ropes with one tentacle of a hand. His sailors looked on in astonishment as he stalked the deck, pounding at his leg with one hand, deciding that their captain must have gone mad, for he muttered “They shall haunt me now.”

They all shuddered in their collective souls, for the folklore of ghosts is strong amoung the men of the sea. One even made the sign against evil, for he turned mad eyes on them, and said “He shall never rest.”


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Eeep!
Keelhauling was done by stripping the sailor to naught but his trousers, and tying his hands to a rope that passed under the boat's keel. Another rope secured his feet. The sailor was then dragged down and under the keel. If drowning did not kill him, he usually died from the lacerations caused by the barnacles, and the resulting infection.

A lovely way to die, isn't it (shudders a little)? I've read both versions, from bow to stern as well as port to starboard. Of course, in our case, Watson has mysteriously vanished, because even I couldn't do that to him.

"Why yes," said Holmes. "I borrowed this oxygen breathing device from Guy Ritchie's Mycroft. I was waiting under water for Watson to hit the surface, and with my Swiss Army Knife (from the Reichenbach giftshop), I cut him loose. He's in the pub called the Anchor washing the Thames out of his insides with some Rum."

And you know that he should have done it without disturbing his pinstriped black pants at all whatsoever!

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