This a re-worked, retelling of a previous fic i wrote, of the same name. But I wasn't happy with it. So I'm trying again.
Life rarely happens the way we think it will. We assume, based on our previous experiences that it will go from A to B. Even C is a possibility. But rarely do we expect it to jump right to K, or P or even Y. The future is a mystery for a reason. It isn't fond of jumping to conclusions. It takes us down an impossibly large maze with far too many exits. And we can end up in the strangest of places when we push forth past the wooden gate of possibility and into the unknown. (Hopefully there's a nice fountain. Fountains look good paired with a maze.) This is precisely what Doctor Watson was about to discover as he took a break from his practice to wander the streets of old London Town.
Doctor John Watson was an ordinary looking man. He was neither tall nor short. He was neither large nor thin. One wouldn't look at this man and exclaim : 'Now there's an incredible fellow!'. But frankly they should. You see, beneath the winter wool coat was an extraordinary man. A veteran of war and a scholar of medicine. His body was neither large nor thin; it was strong and fit. However, it was wounded. Such a pain filled body and mind, had John Watson. He'd returned home wounded and in tatters. But was a proper english gentleman and kept things under a stiff upper lip (and moustache), even though he was falling apart inside. He trudged on, in life, searching for purpose (And a flat). He didn't know that purpose was about to hit him with a brick. (A metaphorical brick in this sense.)
Watson leaned against an old oak tree, his coat pulled tight around him, as he braved the wintery weather. It was extraordinarily difficult to get some peace and quiet in London, especially during the gift-giving season. But the park was only filled with the cold air and the drunk on his bench, fast asleep. His newspaper was thicker than normal but that didn't trouble him. More for the fire and more to read. He opened it to its centre and began to flick through the pages. (People rarely seem to start at the beginning. Despite the importance of front page news.) And was surprised to discover a distinct lack of advertisements. Save for one. One very large, very strange looking ad. A flatmate was required for 221b Baker Street. However, as a man very familiar with the city of London, he knew that there was no 221b in Baker Street. The houses didn't go up to that number. Clearly a mistake. But this was not the only reason for its oddness. No. For it was glowing and the words seemed to be moving...
Watson closed his eyes and then the paper. Stress, fatigue, the common cold. All reasons for such a funny little warp in his mind. Because newspapers did not glow and advertisements didn't not spin their letters. (Or invite readers to non-existent places. Unless it was for nefarious reasons.) He rubbed his eyes and sighed. Time to go, his cold, leisurely break had been a mistake.
"Don't go." Said the voice hiding behind him.
Watson turned in surprise, his hand tightening around the handle of his cane. There was no one there of course. He would have heard someone sneaking up behind him. The newspaper was the only thing there. Lying ominously on the leafy ground. A trick of the mind. There had been no voice. Only the wind. This is what Watson would have told himself if things gone differently. (And indeed he still did, despite the upcoming turn of events) Because the newspaper was floating and in place of the advert was a single eye illustrated on the page. A moving eye, looking him up and down. And right into his soul.
"Are you sure this is the right one?" The eye asked nobody.
"He found the paper. No one else did and you know very well it's been there for months."
The eye rolled in its socket and then looked sharply at Watson. Who had not moved, his face white with shock because he was clearly going mad and about to be carted off to Bedlam.
"Please step forward, London Man." Watson did not, he didn't answer to disembodied eyes. Plus his feet no longer obeyed him. They wished for him to fall to his knees and take a nice nap. (Your feet know what's good for your sole after all)
"I knew this would happen, brother mine. My idea would have been less of a shock and more of a gradual surprise."
"Having him follow a white rabbit?"
Nobody scoffed and the eye narrowed. Then it disappeared. But a second, Watson was relieved. Beyond relieved. But his relief was short lived, as the eye was replaced with the drawing of a hand, getting closer and closer to the frame of the advertisement. Until it broke out of its papery prison and grabbed the coat collar of John Hamish Watson. Watson only had time to emit one hushed curse (for which we will omit for him here) before being sucked into the newspaper. Which fell melodramatically to the ground (as plot devices do.) Of all the paths John had taken in life and all the ones he'd seen before him, none ended with him being sucked into a newspaper by a suited arm. If only that was the strangest thing that was to befall him that day.