Author: Ariane DeVere
Word count: This chapter: 7,956. (Around 18,200 in total)
Please heed/revisit Warnings and Disclaimer at the beginning of Chapter 1.
Return to Chapter 1
“Why hasn’t anyone reported me missing?” Martin asked several days later.
“It’s very possible that they did,” Mr. Gregory replied, “but any such reports will be under a name you don’t yet remember.” He offered a small smile. “Be patient. I’m sure you have a family and friends who miss you and are anxious to have you back.”
The psychologist had been coming to his room each morning and explaining the symptoms of a brief reactive psychosis over and over again. Martin went through phases of refusing to believe anything he told him but he was now finding himself at the point of reluctantly wondering if it might just be true. The gaps in his memory were still there and made no sense, and although his conviction that he was definitely a pilot had not waned, he was more willing to admit to himself that something was obviously wrong with his other beliefs.
Showing an uncanny ability to read his mind, almost as soon as Martin began to be more receptive to the possibility that his memories were inaccurate Mr. Gregory offered a way to help.
“It’s called the Mind Palace,” he explained. “You form an image in your mind of a building containing many rooms – I will help you build this picture – and then you place specific memories into a specific room. You map out the route to that room so that you can always find it again if you require those memories in the future. I accept that you are not yet ready to deny your previous imagined existence, and this is a more gentle way of starting to move on than simply trying to believe that your memories are false.”
He twirled the handle of the umbrella that he had brought in and had propped at the side of his chair. Martin didn’t like the umbrella at all. This made no sense to him – what could possibly be wrong with such an ordinary item? However, his first sight of it had brought on another of the strange door slamming sensations in his mind, and his head still ached. Grimacing, he tried to concentrate as the psychologist continued.
“I’m going to teach you a way to shut away that false information in your own Mind Palace. You’ll still be able to access it if necessary, but it will be in a separate compartment of your mind so that you can ignore it until needed.”
He smiled briefly. “I taught this technique to my brother many years ago. I never thought I’d be doing it again.”
He looked away. Martin was surprised when he saw that the reflective expression on his face made him look years younger – and for a moment Martin felt a touch of empathy towards him.
The feeling didn’t last long.
“... and gently close the door.”
Martin grimaced and let out a distressed breath.
“You can do this,” Mr. Gregory told him. His tone was firm although he sounded sympathetic. “Close the door. He’ll be quite safe there.”
Screwing his eyes more tightly closed, Martin reached out in his mind’s eye and pulled the imaginary door shut. Holding onto the door’s handle for a while, he eventually – and reluctantly – released it and moved his hand down to turn the key in the lock.
“Simon is perfectly safe in the room,” Mr. Gregory reminded him. “He has all the amenities he needs in there. Don’t allow yourself to be upset; you can let him out at any time if you really need to, but for now he needs to be out of your sight. Leave him there, safe from harm. Let him go.”
Martin sighed shakily. It had been agonisingly hard to lock Douglas, Carolyn and Arthur inside the rooms which Mr. Gregory had helped him to build one by one inside his Mind Palace, and his heart had almost broken when he had done the same to Theresa. Somehow he had thought that it wouldn’t be so difficult with Simon – after all, they’d not been close for years. But this was his brother. It didn’t matter that they didn’t get on, or that Simon always intimidated him and had spent most of his life outsmarting him – shutting him away and denying his existence felt wrong.
He opened his eyes and looked at Mr. Gregory, who seemed to have a strangely intense expression on his face. “I hate this,” he told him.
“You’ll hate it every time,” the psychologist said, “but you know that it must be done.”
Martin looked down unhappily. He was dreading the sessions when he would be forced to lock away Caitlin and his mother.
“I don’t think he’s forgiven me yet for insisting that Arthur went into the same room as Carolyn,” Martin told Jack when he came to collect his lunch tray.
“That was days ago,” Jack said. “He’ll have forgotten about it by now. Anyway, you aren’t supposed to be talking about them.”
“They’re locked away where I can’t see them,” Martin said. “I can’t make myself stop thinking about them ... not yet. I mean, I am starting to understand that they never existed, but it’s so difficult to forget them.”
“I’m not even going to pretend I understand what you’re going through,” Jack said with a sympathetic smile, “but you’ll get there in the end. I’m sure you will.”
He looked out of the window. “It’s gorgeous out there today,” he said. “D’you fancy some air?”
“Am I allowed?” Martin asked.
“Of course you are,” Jack asserted. “We’ve explained this before: we keep your room locked to keep you safe. Patients here can be unpredictable and if one got out of their room unsupervised they might behave irrationally if they met anyone.” He directed a cheeky smirk at Martin. “I seem to remember someone busting out of this room and going walkabout not so long ago, eh?”
Martin blushed and Jack smiled at him. “But you can always go out with supervision,” he continued. “If you’d like, I’ll get a wheelchair now and take you to the garden, okay?”
“It would be nice to go outside,” Martin said wistfully, and Jack grinned.
“Back soon,” he said and left the room, returning not long afterwards with a wheelchair.
“Can’t I walk there?” Martin asked.
“You shouldn’t try and walk too far,” Jack told him. “You’re a bit out of practice, and you don’t want to keel over halfway there. Come on; I’ll push you outside and you can walk once we get to the garden.”
He handed Martin his dressing gown and then helped him into the wheelchair. As he pushed him out of the door Martin felt a shiver of excitement at leaving the room for something other than more tests, but he mockingly grumbled, “I feel like an old man, being wheeled about like this.”
“Make the most of it,” Jack said. “You should enjoy being chauffeured around while you’ve got the chance!”
They made their way through the corridors and down to the ground floor in a lift, and finally reached a door leading to the garden. Jack turned the chair around, swiped a card through the reader and then backed through the door, making high-pitched beeping noises like a reversing vehicle as he pulled the chair into the garden. Martin giggled, then drew in an ecstatic breath and turned his face upwards as fresh air and sunlight hit him for the first time in weeks. “Ooh, that’s good,” he said softly.
“I should have got some sun cream,” Jack observed. “You’ll burn if we stay out too long.” He looked around and made a satisfied noise while pointing to a garden bench a short distance away. “That one’s shaded from direct sunlight,” he said. “Fancy trying to walk to it?”
Martin put his hands onto the arms of the wheelchair and started to push himself up. Jack hurried round to his side, put a hand under one of his arms and helped him to his feet. “Just stand there for a moment and get your balance,” he instructed, then wheeled the chair around in front of him. “Here,” he said. “Brace yourself on the chair and push it in front of you. Don’t lean too far forward.”
Taking hold of the chair’s handles, Martin began to walk, Jack keeping close beside him ready to support him if he should start to fall. By the time they reached the bench under the tree, Martin’s legs felt decidedly wobbly but he managed to keep upright before sinking gratefully onto the bench. Jack sat down beside him and Martin again turned his face up to the sun, filtered as it was through branches and leaves. “This is blissful,” he said.
“I didn’t think you were a sun lover,” Jack said.
“I’ve missed fresh air, but no, I don’t normally stay out for long because I do burn easily,” Martin told him. A memory began to nag at the back of his mind but he couldn’t put his finger on it and after a moment he stopped trying to remember and simply enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze.
They sat there for about twenty minutes, not talking much. A few other patients came and went through the garden with their own escorts but nobody came near to them. After a while the sun moved behind another tree and the air became less warm. Martin tried to ignore the cooling breeze, wanting to stay out for as long as possible but eventually he couldn’t help but shiver.
“It gets a bit nippy out of the sun,” Jack instantly remarked, “and you shouldn’t overdo it on your first day out.” He turned and smiled. “So, back to two-two-one, then?”
Martin flinched. Inside his head it felt again as if the invisible door had been flung open and had crashed against the wall before slamming shut. After a moment he mumbled, “Chinese.”
“Sorry, what?” Jack asked.
Martin rubbed his head. “I just had a sudden yearning for Chinese takeaway.”
Jack looked startled for a second, but his smile quickly returned and he asked cheerfully, “Shall we make a run for it?”
Martin looked at him uncomprehendingly.
“I dare you,” Jack said with a grin. “We could make a run for the gates and see if we can get through them before we’re spotted. If we make good our escape, I’ll take you into town. There are three Chinese takeaways in the High Street – I’ll teach you the door handle trick to find out which one’s the best.”
Martin looked past him towards the gates, almost tempted by Jack’s enthusiasm, but then Jack shook his head.
“When you’re stronger, I promise I’ll smuggle you in a takeaway, but right now it’s best you stick to hospital food.” He smiled. “And maybe once you’re really on the road to recovery we’ll stage a break-out one night. I bet we could give the security boys a run for their money.”
“Do you think so?” Martin asked him, uncertain if he was being serious.
“Oh sure,” Jack said airily. “What’s the worst that could happen? We get caught, dragged back here and given a right telling-off by Mr. Gregory.” He grinned wickedly. “Could be dangerous.”
Martin giggled and Jack soon joined in. Martin couldn’t remember the last time he had laughed, and it felt good. Eventually they settled down, and then Martin remembered what had been nagging at him earlier and asked quietly, “What’s wrong with my hair?”
Jack’s eyes flickered upwards. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” he said, a nervous tone creeping into his voice.
“I’ve had red hair all my life,” Martin said. “Why is it growing out darker?”
“Your memories aren’t always accurate,” Jack reminded him.
“This is ridiculous!” Martin burst out. “Even if I invented people who were my friends and family, why would I imagine having different coloured hair?!” He lifted his head and frowned at Jack. “And why did I go to the bother of actually dyeing it that colour? A lot of this doesn’t make any sense.”
Jack met his eyes firmly. “Keep thinking about it,” he told him. “I reckon that the more you think about the stuff that doesn’t make sense, the more likely you are to work some of it out for yourself.”
“We have finished the first stage of our interrogations,” Mycroft Holmes told John Watson that evening.
John grimaced. He had no sympathy for the abductors at all but he didn’t envy what they must have been going through during Mycroft’s ‘interrogations’ and suspected that little which went on in their detention centre was legal.
“What have you learned?” he asked.
“As we already knew, Sherlock was abducted when he was lured to Tonbridge during the Griffiths case. We now know that his abductors took him to an isolated location near Faversham where he was subjected to drugging, hypnosis and psychological reprogramming by the lieutenant of James Moriarty about whom I have spoken.”
John nodded. Only after Sherlock had been rescued had Mycroft told him about the man he suspected to be responsible for his brother’s disappearance. Moriarty had had two lieutenants: Sebastian Moran, his enforcer and main assassin; and this other man. Virtually nothing was known about him: nobody knew his name – in fact nobody even knew if he was a man or a woman although it was assumed that he was male – but whoever he (or she) was, the criminal underworld held him in awe. He had done the worst of Moriarty’s dirty work, and whenever he was sent out on a task he got the job done with no consideration for anyone who got in his way. His enthusiasm for his work was legendary and it had continued after Moriarty’s death while he remained frustratingly elusive. His people were loyal and nobody dared to cross him, and Mycroft’s people had been unable to get the slightest hint of Sherlock’s whereabouts until he had been moved for the final phase of the plan.
For almost three months Sherlock had been programmed until he had forgotten himself and had begun genuinely to believe that he was a rather sad and unimportant man called Martin Crieff. The lieutenant’s training of Sherlock had been perfect, adding the physical touches of dyeing his hair – and letting him see himself in mirrors regularly to reinforce his appearance – and putting a ring on his finger and convincing him that it was his late father’s. Additionally, Sherlock had been repeatedly shown photographs of people who he was told were his friends and family, and once the programming was well underway he had been visited or telephoned during hypnosis by some of the people from the photographs as they pretended to be Douglas, and his mother, and Theresa. After repeated sessions Sherlock – or, rather, Martin – had interacted comfortably with each of these people, had memorised their phone numbers and called them whenever it was suggested to him, and had happily tucked a photograph of Theresa into the wallet he had been given.
Once the programming was complete, Sherlock was taken to an airfield and it was during this transfer that Mycroft’s people had finally got wind of his location and had sent in a retrieval team. Throughout the ensuing firefight Sherlock had stood completely still, apparently unaware of the gunfire all around him, and the retrieval team’s job had been all the more difficult while they tried not to shoot him accidentally. Two of them had sustained gunshot wounds but the abductors had lost four of their own team before finally surrendering. Even then, Sherlock had not responded to his rescuers and had meekly gone with them when they led him away. It had been some time later that he had ‘woken’ and had immediately panicked and begun insisting on his new identity. Eventually he had been sedated and brought to this hospital, which was frequently used for deprogramming personnel who had been under deep cover for long periods. Mycroft’s insistence that he and John would do most of the work on deprogramming Sherlock had not gone down well with the medical staff ... but he had of course prevailed.
Mycroft continued his report. “Before it was thwarted, the plan was that Sherlock, in his hypnotised state, would be placed in the cockpit of an executive jet. A pilot would have flown the aeroplane to its maximum height and then engaged the automatic pilot before exiting with a parachute. Sherlock ... or Martin, I should say, was programmed to wake up to the alarm made when the automatic pilot disengaged a few minutes later. The aeroplane would start to fall out of the sky and ‘Martin’ would find that, despite being certain he was a trained airline captain, he had no recollection of how to work the controls. The radio was disconnected so that he couldn’t call for help, and he would spend his last few minutes in utter confusion and terror. Moriarty’s lieutenant would have filmed the entire event via cameras in the cockpit.”
“But why?!” John burst out, appalled by the mental images in his head. “Why go to all that effort? If this man wanted Sherlock dead, why not just kill him straightaway?”
“Killing him quickly was too easy,” Mycroft replied. “He wanted him confused, afraid and feeling utter despair before his death. No doubt, to him, the weeks he spent programming Sherlock were all part of the ‘fun’.” His lip curled disdainfully as he uttered the last word.
“But why a pilot?” John asked. “Does Sherlock even know how to fly a plane? Wouldn’t he still have crashed and ...” he had to stop and swallow, “... died?”
Mycroft looked grim. “Regardless of his lack of expertise in controlling an aeroplane, Sherlock would have fought to the last to keep it in the air and to try and land. He would have been determined to survive until it was no longer possible, and only at the very last moment would he have felt regret that he had not worked out the controls in time. This man wanted him hysterical, panic-stricken and desperate all the way down.”
John swallowed again. “I still don’t understand why he went to so much effort,” he said.
“Since Sherlock destroyed a great deal of Moriarty’s empire and brought about the arrest of many of his people, other criminal leaders have been squabbling over the remnants,” Mycroft told him. “I have no doubt that this man recorded many of the sessions while he was reprogramming my brother. That, together with the footage taken in the aeroplane, would have served as his ‘audition piece’ to the criminal world, demonstrating that he is a powerful, clever person perfectly suited to take over Moriarty’s network. By producing evidence of how he brought down Sherlock Holmes – Moriarty’s greatest enemy – from a confident genius to an anxious, pathetic and terrified man before his death, he would clearly be seen as someone to be reckoned with and who should be considered Moriarty’s natural successor.
“It would also serve as a warning that he would be a dangerous man to cross,” he added with a grimace.
“And why the hell did he give him a princess for a girlfriend?!” John demanded. “That’s an utterly ridiculous thing for a sad little man like Martin to have.”
“It made his history all the more realistic,” Mycroft replied. “Martin had his dream job but it was unpaid. In order to survive he had to undertake less enjoyable work in his spare time. He lived in a poky attic flat because it was all that he could afford, and he had no social life. It was almost ridiculous to think that someone like him could have a princess girlfriend, so therefore it must be true.”
He looked reflective. “It’s not the first time that this has been done to Sherlock. Give him love, loss and redemption ... and he will dance.”
“Are we going to get him back?” John asked worriedly.
Mycroft straightened in his chair. “I have to believe so. For once, Sherlock’s history with drugs has been helpful. He will have been more resistant to the drugs used on him in the early stages, and when he realised that he would not be rescued in time, he took steps to protect himself, shutting everything important – his ‘essence’, for want of a better word – into a room in his Mind Palace, locking it so far away that the programming couldn’t reach it. He will have protected that room with cryptic locks which can only be opened with very specific code words – code words that his captor couldn’t possibly guess or use accidentally or extract from him under hypnosis. Of course, this means that not even I can begin to work out what the codes are which will trigger his memory’s return, but they will be circumstances or words that he would only hear once he was safe. I’m only allowing him occasional prompts in connection with his real life because if he hears too many triggers at once, his shielded mind may feel that it’s being invaded and will burn all the code words to protect itself. This will be a very hit and miss procedure, but one potential prompt every now and again will hopefully start the unlocking procedure.”
He smiled briefly. “That’s why I’ve been leaving my umbrella at reception until a few days ago. And surely you don’t think it’s a coincidence that he is in room two hundred and twenty-one?”
“You left the ring on his hand,” John pointed out.
“Because Martin would have missed it,” Mycroft said. “He would have been distressed to find it gone and would have wanted it back. If he eventually removes it voluntarily, it will be a good sign.
“I also decided not to dye his hair back to its natural colour,” he continued. “I intended to keep him from seeing it in the early days but once he began to understand his situation I would have shown him his true colour growing out and it would help him to realise that his memories were incorrect.” He rolled his eyes. “Obviously we didn’t intend for him to get out of his room – certainly not that soon – but it seems that seeing his reflection didn’t do any harm and may indeed have encouraged the commencement of his acceptance.
“‘Little and often’ is the watchword here, John,” he added. “We must not force him to recognise aspects of his real life; just ‘coincidental’ positive reinforcement of their existence to prompt his true memories.”
John nodded, his brain reeling at all this information. “Any news on the whereabouts of Moriarty’s man?” he asked.
Mycroft’s expression became ominous. “I’m sure he was somewhere nearby when we rescued Sherlock, and my only regret is that we didn’t apprehend him. But I will find him, and it will give me very great pleasure to ... deal with him.”
John sat up straighter and locked eyes with Mycroft. “Dibs,” he told him flatly.
“Sherlock is my brother,” Mycroft said sternly.
“And he’s ... he’s the man who gave my life meaning,” John said. “I’m not sure I’d be alive now if it wasn’t for him. To see him like this ... I need to be there when you take that bastard down.”
“Very well,” Mycroft conceded. “If it is at all possible, I assure you that you will be there for the finish.”
“Do you have any idea where he might be?” John asked.
“Regrettably none at present,” Mycroft said, “but he cannot hide forever, and my determination to find him is all the greater now.”
He grimaced. “Some of my people are starting to use the criminal underworld’s nickname for him and are referring to him as ‘The Ghost’ because he has been elusive and invisible for so long. It is something I am discouraging very firmly but the longer he remains at large, the more my people will come to feel begrudging respect for him. I will not permit this to continue.”
“But you’ve got a name for him, haven’t you?” John asked shrewdly. “I can tell by the look on your face, and I’m sure you don’t refer to him as ‘Moriarty’s other lieutenant’ all the time.”
Mycroft hesitated before replying. “In the privacy of my own mind I sometimes allow myself to think of him as ‘Bambi’.”
John stared at him incredulously and Mycroft looked almost awkward. “Sherlock was bullied at school,” he explained hastily, “and one of the biggest bullies – the only one who was starting to intimidate him – was named Graham Bamber. I taught Sherlock to think of him only as ‘Bambi’.”
He scowled at John’s bemused expression. “No, we have never watched the film of that name. But by turning his name into a diminutive, it helped to negate the boy’s influence on him.”
He looked at John sternly. “I am not in the least intimidated by this man ... but I find the name a pleasant reminder that he can and will be beaten.”
John nodded. “So why have you taken charge of Sherlock’s deprogramming?” he asked. “You’re not a trained psychologist.”
“I know how to handle my brother,” Mycroft replied.
“That’s not your brother,” John said, pointing in the direction of Martin’s room.
“Not at present,” Mycroft said, “but when Sherlock starts to emerge, I believe he will respond better to me than to anyone else – with a possible few exceptions. That’s why you’re here as well.” He looked at John closely. “How are you coping?”
“It’s killing me,” John said bluntly. “It’s killing me looking into his eyes and not seeing Sherlock looking back at me. Martin is so different that I don’t have a problem remembering his name; he’s so nervous, so shy, he doesn’t have a scrap of self-confidence – it scares me to death seeing such a different personality in my best friend’s body.”
He stared at Mycroft in bewilderment. “His voice even sounds different! How the hell did ‘Bambi’ programme him to do that?”
“I don’t believe that he did,” Mycroft replied. “I imagine that this is how Sherlock would always have sounded had he led a different life and not developed such great confidence in himself and his abilities.”
John grimaced. “I feel like I’ve been teleported to an alternate universe,” he said miserably. “There are times I want to shake him and yell at him to stop all this nonsense. It’s almost as bad as when ...”
He trailed off, not wanting to remember the last time he had lost Sherlock. Instead he raised his head and looked at Mycroft with determination. “But I’ll cope for as long as I have to until we get him back.”
Martin had just finished breakfast two days later when Lacey burst into his room, grinning as she brought in a large suit carrier and a holdall and deposited them onto his bed.
“Clothes!” she announced. “The Powers That Be have decreed that it’s time you got out of those hospital pyjamas and put some proper clothes on.”
She gestured at the holdall first. “Underwear, socks and shoes in there; and everything else in the carrier,” she said. “Take your pick; and I’ll pop in later to see you looking fabulous!”
Beaming at him, she swept out of the room. Martin jumped up from the armchair and eagerly opened the holdall. He had already showered before breakfast, so he pulled the curtains around his bed and took off his pyjamas, keen to get into something which wasn’t night wear. He hoped this meant that Mr. Gregory and the medical team thought he was getting better.
Quickly pulling on a pair of underpants and some socks, he unzipped the suit carrier and folded it open. What greeted his gaze almost blew his mind. On top of the pile were several pairs of expensive-looking trousers and when he selected a pair and put them on, they fit him so well that he wondered if the medical team had taken his measurements during the time he was unconscious. Also in the bag was a collection of shirts, any of which had probably cost more than he could earn from Icarus Removals in several weeks. Choosing one of them and putting it on, he felt a little awkward at how close-fitting it was but had to admit that he felt quite comfortable in it. He hesitated for a long time over the top buttons, wishing that there were some ties in the bag. He always wore a shirt and tie at work, and the rest of the time he lived in T-shirts; this felt as if he was in some strange mid-way stage between the two. Then he reminded himself that maybe he always dressed like this, unlikely as it seemed. After initially buttoning the shirt to the top, he eventually undid the top two buttons, feeling strangely vulnerable as he lowered his hands but nevertheless wishing there was a mirror in the room.
Putting on one of the pairs of shoes – again obviously very expensive but a perfect fit – he sat down in the armchair, noting with bemusement after a while that he had crossed his legs. It wasn’t a position he usually took. Wondering why different clothing should make him sit differently, and again contemplating the possibility that maybe he did regularly sit this way but simply didn’t remember, he steepled his hands in front of his mouth while he thought it through but still hadn’t come to any conclusion when someone knocked on the door and then opened it.
Lacey stuck her head through the opening, her eyes comically squinched shut. “Are you decent?” she asked.
“I am appropriately dressed, yes,” Martin told her, wondering why his voice sounded deeper than usual, “and so you are permitted to look.” Although he was deliberately overdoing the formal language in an attempt to be humorous, he couldn’t explain to himself why he had loudly clicked the ‘k’ on the last word.
Grinning, Lacey opened her eyes and came into the room, then gaped at him before letting out an appreciative whistle. “Sorry,” she apologised immediately. “That was very unprofessional but, wow, Martin, you look amazing!”
Blushing, Martin uncrossed his legs and slumped down in the chair a little, unused to being complimented. “Really?” he asked with some embarrassment.
“Are you kidding?! You look fantastic,” she told him. “D’you wanna come to the loo down the corridor and have a peek in the mirror?”
“Erm ...” Martin said nervously.
“Oh, come on – you ought to see this!” Lacey said, holding the door open. “And Mr G. said that it would be okay if you wanted to look.”
She escorted him down the corridor and pushed open the bathroom door before flamboyantly gesturing him into the room with a cheerful grin. Martin went inside and looked at himself in the mirror for a long time. He did look rather good, he admitted to himself, though the sight of his dark roots brought on another headachey slam.
“You all right?” Lacey asked after a while, still holding the door open.
“Mmm,” Martin said absently, his eyes locked on his reflection. Automatically his hands raised and steepled in front of his mouth again as he continued to watch himself. The position seemed to be helping him to concentrate for some reason. Puzzled, he lowered his arms again, then turned to Lacey and smiled shyly at her admiring look. She grinned back at him.
“Where next?” she asked. “Want to go outside? I’ll get you an orderly.”
Not waiting for his reply, she looked up and down the corridor, apparently spotting someone immediately. “Oi, Jack!” she said loudly. “Escort for a garden visit?” Turning back to Martin, she beckoned him out of the bathroom. He walked into the corridor and turned to smile at the approaching orderly.
Jack stopped and stared at him as if he had seen a ghost. Martin frowned, confused by his reaction, and Jack blinked hard, then smiled widely and started towards him again.
“Are you all right?” Martin asked later as they sat on the bench in the garden.
“Mmm, fine,” Jack said absently, his head still bent over the newspaper crossword puzzle he was doing.
“You looked upset when you saw me.”
“Did I?” Jack looked round at him for a second before returning to his paper. “No, of course I wasn’t. Bit startled, that’s all. You look very different now you’re dressed. Do you feel different?”
“I think so,” Martin replied cautiously. “I’ve been stuck in pyjamas for so long that it’s good to be in proper clothes.” He hesitated, then continued, “But it must be a good sign, mustn’t it, that they’re letting me get dressed?”
“Oh, hell, yes!” Jack said enthusiastically.
Martin smiled, then leaned back and raised his face to the sunlight.
Jack continued working on his crossword, then grumbled. “Hmm, I must have got some of the other clues wrong – this one can’t be right,” he complained. “Eleven letters, clue is ‘Message from the moors’. Blank, U, blank, M, blank, Q, blank, blank, blank, R, A.”
He looked up hopefully at Martin for a moment, then shrugged. “I’ve definitely got some of the other clues wrong,” he said with a mournful smile and turned back to the puzzle.
“I’m bringing her in tomorrow,” Mycroft told John a few days later.
“Are you sure she’ll be able to cope?” John asked.
Mycroft pursed his lips. “She has assured me that she will be able to control herself,” he said. “I admit I’m not completely confident, but I’m sure that you and I can cover if required. And if she does become upset, it might cause an emotional response which may help to trigger his memory recall.”
Martin had a long session with Mr. Gregory the following afternoon and afterwards the psychologist suggested that they go to the common room. He explained that there was a chilly breeze outside and it wouldn’t be wise to venture out, but the common room caught the sun in the afternoon. Jack wandered in shortly after their arrival, quickly giving up all pretence of cleaning and coming over to join them. Martin chatted with him for a while, but then Jack turned and beamed in the direction of an elderly lady who was pushing a trolley into the room.
“Oh, God bless her,” he said. He turned to Mr. Gregory. “She doesn’t come round often enough for my liking. Can’t we get her in more regularly?”
“Think yourself lucky that we get volunteers at all,” Mr. Gregory told him. “The hospital’s budget doesn’t run to paying staff for this role.”
Jack shrugged, then turned again to smile at the approaching woman. Her trolley held several teapots and cups and saucers on the top shelf, and underneath were shelves containing a large assortment of obviously second-hand paperback books. As she wheeled the trolley over to where another patient and his ‘minder’ were sitting, Jack remarked, “I don’t know how she does it when she’s using the same stuff we use, but she makes the best cup of tea I’ve ever tasted.”
After serving one of the teapots to the other patient, the woman pushed her trolley over to Martin’s group. She looked a little anxious and her eyes darted nervously towards him and then flitted away to stare at Jack as if seeking reassurance from him. He stood up and greeted her warmly.
“You’re a saint, Mrs H.,” he told her as he took one of the teapots, three cups and saucers and some milk and sugar from the trolley and put them on the coffee table in front of Mr. Gregory.
“You’re welcome, dear,” she said, her eyes turning to Martin again before quickly skidding away.
“This is Mrs Henson,” Mr. Gregory told him. “She is volunteering here, and I will agree with Jack that she does make a rather splendid pot of tea.” He reached for the teapot, smiling into Martin’s eyes as he lifted it. “I’ll be mother,” he said.
‘A whole childhood in a nutshell,’ Martin thought, wincing as the door in his head crashed against the wall and slammed shut again. Trying to hide his grimace and wondering why he was having such unkind thoughts about his psychologist, it seemed to him that the man was looking at him strangely, as if he was reading his mind again. After a moment, however, he turned his attention to pouring the tea. Mrs Henson took a shaky breath and seemed to brace herself, but the smile she finally aimed at Martin was sweet and friendly.
“Would you like to borrow any of these books?” she asked.
Glancing at the selection, Martin realised that they were probably all novels and that he didn’t really want any. Novels were a waste of time and he would much rather have some flight manuals to study. However, out of politeness and in deference to Mrs Henson’s anxious look, he chose a few at random and she wrote their details onto a sheet of paper attached to a clipboard.
“And what’s your room number?” she asked.
“Two two one B,” he told her.
Even as he corrected himself, wondering where the extra letter had come from and frowning as that damned door slammed open and closed in his head again, both Jack and Mrs Henson gasped, and Jack turned and glanced at Mr. Gregory. The psychologist looked back at him blandly and took a sip of his tea.
‘Something important just happened,’ Martin thought, but he didn’t like to ask.
Jack had jolted so strongly when he gasped that he had spilled tea onto the arm of his chair. As he scrabbled in his pockets for something to wipe it up, Mrs Henson pulled a paper tissue from her bag and mopped up the liquid. “Thanks, Mrs H.,” Jack said. He looked up at her with an expression which suggested he was only joking as he asked, “Can you come round and clean my flat next?”
Mrs Henson looked at him with wide eyes and spoke hesitantly, sounding almost as if she had rehearsed the line. “I’m a tea lady, dear, not your housekeeper.”
She turned and looked anxiously at Martin, who gazed back at her uncomprehendingly. After a moment her eyes began to fill with tears and she bent her head and rummaged in her handbag to extract another tissue. Instantly he was filled with a strange feeling.
“Don’t ...” he began, then clamped his mouth shut, appalled at the thought in his head. Had he really been about to say, “Don’t snivel, Mrs Henson,” to her? What sort of hideous person would say that to such a sweet old lady? Was this who he really was; was this who he would become if he got his memories back?
His headache was getting worse.
“Who the bloody hell am I?” Martin burst out when Jack came in the next morning. He had been pacing between the window and the bedside armchair for some time and even though his legs were beginning to feel weak from more exercise than they were used to, he didn’t seem able to keep still.
“Martin ...” Jack began cautiously.
“I don’t even know if my name is Martin! It could be Brian or Ricardo or Sherrinford for all I know!” He winced as the internal door slammed open and shut. “I don’t know anything about me. Are my parents alive? Do they know I’m missing? Do they even care? Do I have brothers or sisters? Who’s my best friend? Do I have a best friend?”
Jack opened his mouth, then closed it again.
“What if I’m horrible?” Martin asked him in dread, stopping near the armchair. “What if I’m some really rude unpleasant man who has no friends and whose family don’t care about him? What if I’m some hideous criminal? What if I’ve done terrible things?”
“Sh...” Jack began, then clamped his mouth shut.
“I don’t want to shush!” Martin yelled at him. “I don’t know what’ll be worse – finding out I’m awful, or my memories never coming back. For God’s sake – I don’t even know what my favourite colour is!”
He sank down onto the edge of the bed, staring down at his shaking hands in his lap. Immediately Jack sat beside him and put a comforting arm around him, and after a moment Martin turned and buried his face into his shoulder, fighting the urge to simply let go and cry. Jack brought his other hand up and gently cradled his head.
They sat there for a long time. Martin had no idea whether his true self would object to being held like this but right now he felt both comfortable and comforted. He was no nearer to finding out who he was, but at least he had got his pent-up anxiety out of his system for a while.
Closing his eyes, he wondered idly why his shoulder underneath Jack’s head felt damp.
The therapy sessions continued, Mr. Gregory helping Martin to enlarge the Mind Palace and move the locked rooms deeper and deeper into the structure. For the rest of the time, apart from occasional visits to the garden with Jack or one of the nurses, Martin mostly stayed in his room either trying to read the books he had borrowed but frequently finding them too uninteresting to continue, or simply gazing out of the window and wondering whether his memory would ever return.
Eventually he was encouraged to go to the hospital’s gym where a therapist started a gentle exercise routine to build up his physical strength. Other patients were also there and sometimes one of them would strike up a conversation with him but Martin didn’t talk with them for long, either finding them tedious or getting an attack of shyness and he would make excuses to leave, or would move to another piece of equipment.
Realising how bored he was getting, Jack brought some CDs and a player with speakers to his room, each of the discs consisting of instrumental music. Martin enjoyed listening to the piano etudes, but wasn’t so enamoured of the jazz recordings. A few days later he returned from the gym and found that Jack had left him some more discs and when he selected one randomly and put it on, it began to play classical violin music. After only three minutes he had to turn it off again. There didn’t seem to be anything objectionable about the music but the door-banging in his head was getting too painful. Additionally, he couldn’t understand why the fingers on his left hand kept twitching in complicated patterns in time to the music.
Jack spent more and more time in Martin’s room, frequently not even pretending to clean. He would sit in the other armchair and the two of them would talk, or would sit in comfortable silence or listen to music, although Martin didn’t put any of the violin music on again. Other times when they were being quiet Jack would get out a newspaper and read it or do the crossword, and Martin would try to concentrate on one of his books. Occasionally he would glance up to watch Jack when he thought he wasn’t looking. Sometimes Jack looked sad. Martin hated seeing him like that but didn’t think it appropriate to ask what was wrong, and Jack would be smiling again by the time he looked up to meet his eyes.
Martin was sitting in the armchair one afternoon reading the third novel while Jack changed the bed. “How’s the book?” Jack asked as he tucked in the bottom sheet.
“Dull,” Martin said idly without looking up. “It’s obvious that the secretary is the assassin. Why else would she paint her fingernails fuchsia pink? Clearly they were her uncle’s favourite flowers.”
Jack was silent and Martin raised his eyes to see a look of triumph on his face. “What?” he asked.
Jack shook his head. “Nothing. But that was a pretty smart deduction, don’t you think?”
Martin frowned down at the book. “Was it?”
“What page are you on?”
“Um ... thirty-eight.”
“Has anyone said that her uncle liked fuchsias yet?” Jack asked.
“I don’t ... remember,” Martin replied. “At least, I can’t remember when it was said. But how else would I know?”
“How else indeed?” Jack asked cryptically.
Three days later Mr. Gregory asked Martin during their therapy session to describe Caitlin, and then Douglas. It seemed a strange question when previously he had been encouraged to lock those people away and forget them, but Mr. Gregory persisted. Talking about the woman he had thought was his sister, Martin started off well enough but then couldn’t remember the colour of her eyes; and although he knew that she had long hair, he couldn’t recall whether she generally wore it loose or tied it back. Moving on to the man who he had believed was his co-pilot, he could hear Douglas’ laconic drawl clearly in his head but struggled to remember what he looked like. Mr. Gregory nodded approvingly, telling him it was a sign that he was making progress.
Martin took off his ring the following morning. He handed it to Jack and asked him to keep it safe, waiting for some feeling of regret or pain, but it didn’t come. Frequently during the next couple of days he looked at his bare finger, willing himself to remember where he had got the ring and why he had imbued it with a memory of it being his non-existent father’s, but still his true memories refused to surface.
Martin was dreaming. He knew he was dreaming, but it didn’t stop the excitement building inside him. He was running – running as fast as he could, as if the devil were behind him. But he wasn’t running away – he was running towards something, and he knew that when he got there it would be dangerous and terrifying and life-threatening and wonderful, and he needed to get there because this was what he lived for. His consciousness shifted and he realised that he wasn’t alone as he ran – Jack was running a few paces behind him, matching his speed, and his face was alight with joy and excitement and Martin knew that he felt exactly the same level of fear and delight. Martin laughed deliriously as he increased his speed. “Come on, John!” he shouted, and his partner grinned as they raced onwards, and then Jack (John) reached back and pulled a pistol from the back of his jeans and even though Martin had never had any interest in guns he recognised it instantly and he knew that he could never be in mortal danger while Jack (John) held the gun (Sig Sauer P226); and Martin kicked up another gear, his long coat (Belstaff Milford) billowing out behind him and they ran on faster and faster, eager to get to the danger, eager to show their brilliance, eager to solve their latest case ... and the dream began to dissolve and Martin groaned as he realised that he was starting to wake. He breathed deeply, trying to burrow back into the dream but it was gone and he was left with nothing but blankness behind his eyelids. He lay there for a while, not understanding the sense of loss, then reluctantly he opened his eyes and realised that somebody had switched the lights back on since he had gone to bed.
Frowning, he turned his head and stared numbly at the man who was sitting in the armchair beside the bed and beaming at him happily.
“Hallo, Skip,” said Arthur.
On to Chapter 3