by Ros Ballinger

He shouldn’t be here, and he is fielding a number of hostile glares from the uniformed men surrounding him because of that very fact.  It is only Mycroft’s say-so that has allowed him here.

‘A hanging, Sherlock?  Lukas Mӧller, the war criminal?  I knew you were a morbid fellow, but I didn’t know there was quite so much blood-lust in you.’

‘Not blood-lust, Mycroft, merely…curiosity.’

He has attended hangings before; not out of celebration or satisfaction, he likes to think, but out of necessity – just to see his work reach a neat conclusion.  This time, he reflects – standing ram-rod straight in a dusty corner – the reasoning is a little more complicated.

Everything is prepared.  The room is ready, bordered by a series of men in sharply pressed uniform with faces steeped in the due process of revenge.  The noose gently swings and pigeons nest amongst the rafters, their movements sending dust trickling down to the ground below.

There is something wrong.  Even amongst investigations, trials, the dozens of convicted and dead Nazis now confined to the soil, even as Mӧller was led away following his guilty verdict to the applause of the court, something is wrong, and Sherlock Holmes can feel it, and a vague discomfort prickles over his skin.

They hadn’t let him assist with the investigations.  They were on too grand a scale to let a rogue detective disrupt them.  Despite his propensity to show off, Holmes had complied for the most part, but Mӧller.  Mӧller.  He’d had an inklings of doubts, half-formed theories about the man, about his arrest, his case, but his brain had failed to make the leap into full-fledged understanding.

The door to the room opens.  Mӧller, face blank and empty, is led to the noose.

there is still something missing

The heavy noose is tied around his neck.

there is a man about to die think think THINK

Mӧller closes his eyes, bows his head.  The men in the chamber nod to each other, silently communicating what they have done so many times already, and Holmes’ head is alight with electric panic, all neurones firing, his heart and mind and sinew burning with the conviction that this is wrong that there is a detail missed that they need more time that he needs to think, think, THINK –

wait –

The rope falls.  The pigeons take flight.