Prologue

Funny thing about books is right as one turns the first page, the reader explodes into an entirely new universe in which they are creating a world based upon the whims of the author. First introductions are key in a story, especially when trying to appeal to an audience that is just fitted for one's specific novel. This is why, which is the reason it is so especially difficult for novices untrained in the field, it is imperative to constantly make the little details either a known fact or a creeping thought crawling and searching its way through the novel to hook the reader into the story. Characters, scenery, descriptions, and most everything has to be taken in for the full effect of the story.

All throughout the story the reader will try to pinpoint the certain details to fully create their version of the story and to see if they have all of the answers to their, hopefully many, questions. At times, if the writer is any good of course, their guesses about the plot are wrong and feel almost duped. Their fabricated world has changed, and their perception of it turns into something completely new.

This is why it is so important to take note of all of the details before coming to a conclusion. Not only is observation of all of the facts given very important, but also the manipulation of the reader's viewpoint. One cannot have facts without manipulation, yes? After all, isn't the manipulation of a simple storyline twisted for the listeners' ears just what a story is about?

Snowy white pages flipped back and forth, under the will of the hand of a young blonde woman, seated so comfortably next to her tattered brown purse. The cover of the book was almost completely torn off, replaced by a crude remarking of the title on the following page. The book was massive, and held thousands of torn pages, most of them threatening to fall out. She could scarcely read the words that were part of the original story which were so minuscule and so inconsequential to the coded scarlet marginalia. The red markings had appeared as if some sort of crimson paint had tainted the snow, ruining its pristine condition.

It was predawn, and the bruised-blue light of the awakening sun was hitting at an angle that would surely conceal the girl under the ancient marble statues of Trafalgar Square in London until mid-morning. She was surprised that none of the authorities had told her to get off of the property during the entire night. Then again, everything was going to be a surprise from now on.

She fondled her hoodie sleeve, the only thing keeping her body warmer than the surprising cool of a London summer. Quinn was used to blazing-hot summers when the sun never stopped shining, not this cool, misty morning when the sun would grace the sky from its canopy in the clouds. She figured that she could handle new surprises, what with her constant change of scenery in the past year.

A few hours ago, Quinn would have been able to think to herself without a single noise bothering her, save for the hum of cars and taxis which had increased to a cacophonous vibration. There was no time for any interruption; they were looking for her everywhere, and it was only a matter of time before one of his men grabbed her from behind into the back of a truck.

Quinn had to get this book to Sherlock quickly, before he even knew about him. Poor man, she thought to herself, rolling her eyes. He was hardly famous, living in a flat alone, had the strangest occupation, and had just begun writing his strange blog, "Science of Deduction". Oh well, at least he has something going for him. At least finally I'm not alone.

She had talked to the man just the other day on the phone. Funny man, with a strange, yet familiar lilt in his voice that soothed and aggravated her. Quinn told him of her predicament, the clues ensconced throughout the pages of the book that led her to strange places to meet even stranger people, the one last code she was sure only he could solve, making sure she left out a few details she found that directly linked these dangerous people to his family. She had been informed by his landlady that the man would most likely take her case if it was interesting, and Quinn knew that her situation was intriguing and precarious and it was most probably interesting.

Of course he, within seconds of her talking, 'politely' informed her that her voice was too dull, that she "probably had never spoken to a person before without stumbling over her words like an old and befuddled dying dog trying to get down a set of stairs" (those were his exact words) and she needed to "take several public speaking classes before talking to him about any case again". Though she would more wish to give his cheeky face a good smack or five, she agreed with him politely and told him she would meet him in person. He, begrudgingly, agreed (since the case was "interesting" enough and he hadn't much else to do and his "skull was getting tired of talking to him") and gave her his address.

So, there Quinn Dodds was sitting in Trafalgar Square, noshing on the last of her bites of peanuts from the airplane flight waiting for her brother Christopher Dodds to arrive from Richmond, Virginia. It was the safest destination where he could enter the country safely and undetected. He knew exactly where to meet her, according to the directions she gave him. His plane should have arrived two hours ago and he should have gotten a taxi from there to the Square, the trip lasting about twenty or more minutes, or so Quinn calculated, since the traffic was nearly nonexistent an hour ago.

Quinn became nervous, recalling that his men could be onto him right now. Her fingers ran through the pages again, the snowy affect it had on her slowly became forgotten and morphed into a rampant distress. Was there something that her brother missed about this destination? She wondered, almost aloud, to herself. While tossing through each blood-red word in the book, one page tore slightly on the bottom edge. She gasped and cursed under her breath.

Soon, everything became louder which of course meant, by default, that it would be much more difficult to hear someone approach her from behind. She scanned about to catch a glimpse of any sudden movements toward her. She had learned beforehand that she had to keep a close watch around her constantly. Her hazel eyes stopped in one faraway location, particularly where a dark green car parked in front of an eatery. Quinn peered farther into the windows of the car and saw the outline of her red-haired brother's gagged mouth and beaten face.

She gasped to herself and carefully placed the book inside of her bag, stood, and began walking away from the Square. As the sun began to ascend higher in the early morning sky, she threw her hood up and covered her face. She knew she should never give her identity away to others.

Panting wildly she cocked her head backwards to see if anyone caught sight of her. Two men dressed in black suits, one dark-skinned with a bald head and lean figure and the other very tall with pale skin and a shock of grey hair with a scar in his ear. The dark skinned man shook his head, smiled in her general direction, and took out a phone from his pocket.

So, they had gotten to him, she thought, as her hood fell off the back of her head. Quinn continued walking faster to the National Gallery.

And now they're after me.

Quinn could make out the two men's shadows walking with large paces far behind her. The street was wet and glassy, mirroring every pound her feet made on the ground. She looked behind herself and saw the men pushing their way through the crowds.

They were after the book, and her brother was just the trading piece. After they had already taken everything away from her, there still wasn't enough. Now, they needed to take another part of their family. Until she was alone. And weak. And vulnerable enough to-

No…they couldn't! They cannot have this book. She shook her head as she stopped on the side of the Gallery.

They would surely get to her, she knew it. They would take her, ruin her life, and make sure that she would never ever see or hear of her family, or whoever was still left alive, again. No one else would know the truth. Once they had it, they would eradicate any evidence of their web for good and it would continue to grow larger and more powerful. All because of that stupid book!

She could never get the book to Sherlock Holmes now; his flat was much too far away and he probably had every part of the city where she could go from here covered with his men. It was impossible, with Chris gone and Sherlock Holmes so far away, Quinn had to relinquish the book to someone else.

But who could that be? It was only a miracle she and her brother knew what the original codes stood for, and even then it was difficult at first to decode it. Where could she send the book, and where would she go after she sent it off?

An image of a girl with black eyes and brown hair with a quick wit popped into her head. Helen Taylors. Or, at least, that was what her fake name was. Quinn narrowed her eyes and shook her head. Her classmate, a year Quinn's junior, was friend with Chris and never got along with Quinn well. No matter what Quinn thought about her, she still had a…connection to Sherlock Holmes and was especially smart and had a knack for these codes, especially since they were color-coded.

Her lungs burned when the sounds of their feet gained on her trail. She started again, racing down the street. Quinn knew no other place to sprint, other than turning sporadically on corners that somehow lead her to the same avenues.

Her ankle caught on a street corner, but she kept moving. Quinn scanned for any of the men. Though she could not see one, the blonde caught a scene of the same truck parked out in the street, only now in a different direction. The sight of the parked forest green car, the same that held her older brother, instantly filled her with dread. She wanted to help him, but knew that if she did she would have to surrender the book…and eventually her life.

Wait? Didn't Sherlock Holmes' landlady tell her (Quinn remembered that she talked very much and, though incredibly courteous, divulged many details about her tenant) about some homeless society Sherlock Holmes invented? Yes, that was it. He asked them for information about the cases he took and, in turn, he would give them money or any other goods?

Quinn stopped on a street with assorted stores to let her ankle rest and thought a moment. Though she winced at the thought of being homeless, it would give her a good cover to try to escape these men. That way, if she ever heard news of her brother (that is, if he were still alive after a while), she could help him immediately and then try to get back to her family. Also, if she did send out the book to "Helen", the girl would still bring the book back here to Sherlock Holmes and have him solve the remaining clue.

Holding her breath she turned the opposite way of the green truck and dashed, as best as her ankle allowed her, down to the side of the street with the most open stores.

After pondering the many signs of the shops, Quinn walked speedily into a need-of-repair goods distributing store. As soon as she walked in, her nose was barraged with the smell of old burnt paper and ink. White paint peeled off the top corners of the walls, and lines of multicolored paint sporadically dotted the side wall. In preparation for repainting, the light switches and other electronic outlets were protected with blue painter's tape. Mailboxes, large shelves full of cards, wrapping paper, and other trinkets lined the entire back portion of the store. In the front of the store was a large flat surface covered in cardboard boxes just in the midst of a shipment.

She sighed in relief and looked behind her. There was no sight of the men, but she knew they would soon be on to her. The blonde lifted the purse off of her shoulder and took the book out in her right hand. She stopped herself, gazing at the enormous responsibility in her hand which had so ruined many others' lives. Was she really about to give it off to ruin anyone else's, especially "Helen"'s? The girl who already had had enough horrible troubles in her life?

The blonde shook her head. There was no time, and she was already waiting in line. If the men were to come upon her at any minute, they would surely snatch the book away from her and that would be the end of any hope of them being exposed.

Quinn knew that she had to lead "Helen" to London somehow. She pulled out a gold pen from her purse, the only color available for her to dig out of the bag. After opening the utensil, she began to write a note, one only "Helen" could understand.

With her teeth, Quinn pulled off the pen cap from the top, and placed it back on top of the point. She closed the book, and placed it on the counter where she guessed the workers package the goods. A male employee greeted her. " 'Ello. Can I 'elp you?" he mumbled in a dull voice; he scratched his oily, snarled hair as he said this, and she worried that he'd get the book all greasy if he touched it.

"Yes please," she cheerfully said, noticing that her voice was as pitiful sounding as the whimper of an old, decrepit dog. So, Sherlock Holmes was right about something. Small seemed like the furthest description from the book, what with its thick bindings, crudly treated page-ends, and sticky-notes appearing out of every page. "I want to send it internationally to California to a friend. What do I pay for that?"

The mailworker paused for a moment, too long for the girl's taste, and took up the literature in his hands. "Count of Monte Cristo," he droned, almost with a slight hint of emotion in his voice. "Remember readin' tha' in sec'nd'ry school. Quite a bit of readin' yeh've got 'ere, miss."

The girl nodded and turned to the window. There was no one there, but there still was not enough time. "Yes, it's a project I'm currently working on. I plan to give it to a friend so they can help finish it, and I've got a very important previous engagement somewhere," she drabbled on, her words running over the other.

His eyes widened as he shook his head, mumbling about the difficulty there was in schools these days ("That's why I left early n' came 'ere", he explained to Quinn. "Ne'er much 'elp schoolin' gave me, I tell ye'!") and he went back into the mailroom to get a box for her package. She waited impatiently and tapped her finger on the counter. The men could be there any moment, out to grab her. Fearful, she twirled a stray tuft of hair, and chewed her tongue vigorously. Quinn stared at her hair thoughtfully. Maybe I should dye my hair, since blond hair stands out more.

To her, and her tongue's, relief he came back from the back room and gave her the amount. "Wha's the destin'tion, includin' address, city, etc. that yeh wish t' mail th's item?" The employee monotonously murmured after popping in a piece of gum.

Quinn gave him all of the information, including Helen's name on the package. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out money that she had exchanged for pounds earlier that morning. He accepted the money, noticing that she gave him more than was due.

"Just keep the change, sir," the girl politely said, followed by a forced smile. He merely stared at her while smacking his lips, his disgusting beard bouncing to the rhythm of his chewing. The book was wrapped in a yellow envelope, the name written in black ink, and taken off by the employee. Instead of saying goodbye, or thanking her for her service, the man walked off and raked through his greasy strands of hair. The girl reminded herself that she would never walk in this goods store again…and to remember to go to school once she was cleared of her mess.

As the yellow envelope was taken to the back of the store, she placed her purse back on her shoulder. The late summer heat hit her face as she hobbled out of the store with her injured ankle and the humidity of the day suffocated her. She took off her jacket and tied it around her waist. It was now about mid-morning, and the two men were nowhere in sight. At least, for now

The blonde was about to turn the corner before taking one last look at the store. Quinn did not know exactly to go from there, besides going to dye her hair and maybe try to talk to Sherlock Holmes.

Whatever happens, Quinn was proud of the location and the person to whom she sent the package. She smirked. "If I can't give it to Sherlock Holmes, I guess it's best to keep it in the family."