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Tag: fic: Completely Normal

Completely Normal #5

John stared at Sherlock for a considerable amount of time, during which he tried to work out whether or not his friend had finally discovered hyperbole, or if this was just some sort of strange code for, ‘we’re out of milk again, and I’m going to behave oddly until you buy some more.’ Weighing the likelihood of both scenarios, John seriously contemplated checking the contents of the fridge.

Ignoring John’s terribly confused expression, Sherlock reached for the squarish device and slid it open to stare intently at a blue light that winked and flashed without rhythm. In the span of about two and a half seconds, Sherlock’s face wore a series of expressions from outright terror, mild confusion, and absolute joy.

“Ah! Yes!” he said as he slid the ring onto his thumb. “We’re in luck. Thank Zarquon. I did not want to try my luck with the Vogons.”

“I’m still dreaming,” John declared as he gathered up his bags. “He’s talking even more nonsense than usual.”

“We haven’t got time for you to stand around talking to yourself,” Sherlock said as he rather acrobatically managed to slide into his coat without actually taking off the laptop case. “Our ride’s in Islington. Come on!”

He grabbed John by the cuff and pulled him in the direction of the door.

“All right!” John said, reaching for his own coat. “Calm down. I’m coming.”

“Not fast enough. Let’s go,” Sherlock insisted. “I don’t know how long it’ll be here. I’m surprised it’s here at all.”

He was halfway out the door by the time John managed to pull on his coat and gather his bags. By the time he made his way to the pavement, he found Sherlock turning off of Baker Street, apparently set on walking to Islington if no cab presented itself. John ran to catch him up, surprised that when Sherlock did finally manage to hail a cab, he waited long enough for John to climb inside.

“Islington,” Sherlock told the driver.

“Where?” asked the driver as he pulled away from the kerb.

“Don’t know yet,” said Sherlock. “Just go in that direction and I’ll tell you when to stop.”

John found himself with an all too familiar feeling that he should be apologising on Sherlock’s behalf, but he was far too tired and far too confused to bother. He considered for a moment trying to get Sherlock to explain the situation again, but Sherlock’s focus was so intently centred on his blinking black device that John wasn’t sure he’d even hear his own name being called.

What John needed to know about this situation, and what Sherlock was completely neglecting to tell him was that at that very moment, a Vogon constructor fleet was poised above the planet in preparation to demolish it in order to make way for a hyperspace express route. What John also did not know, even though it would have benefitted him in this situat ion, was that the device that held Sherlock’s attention at that moment was a SubEtha Sens-o-Matic, which Sherlock was currently using to detect the presence of space ships that had been at that moment in their general vicinity. And the reason Sherlock was so focused on getting to Islington as quickly as possible was because there was one ship that gave off a slightly different reading than the fleet of Vogon ships above London, and if the pilot of that ship had any sense in his head or heads, he would have been off the planet several hours before. That the ship was still in London at all had filled Sherlock’s head with more scenarios and possibilities than he rightly knew how to handle.

What Sherlock Holmes didn’t know at that moment, but at a point later in the narrative will come to realise rather quickly, was that the pilot of this particular ship over this particular area of London had less sense between both of his heads than the main branch of the Malthaby Galactic Bank.*

Luckily, Sherlock did not know this yet, which was why he ordered the cab to stop and was out the door before John had even realised anything had happened.

“Sorry,” John said as he paid the cabbie, leaving him with a very sizable tip. “It’s the end of the world, or something. He’s not always this bad.”

“Quite all right, sir,” said the cabbie as he counted out the cash. “Would you like me to wait for you, then?”

John glanced out into the darkness, barely able to see Sherlock as he looked around frantically.

“No, I think we’re meeting someone here.”

Not wanting to get Sherlock even more wound up by making him wait, John gathered his bags and rushed out after him. He looked around, trying to see whatever it was Sherlock was looking for, but all he could see was just an average night in an average part of town.

“Telling me what’s going on yet, or should I start guessing?” he asked.

“I already told you,” Sherlock said impatiently. “The world’s about to end, and we need to get off this planet.”

“What does that even mean?” asked John, finding this game rather tiring.

Sherlock stared at him, wearing his very exasperated face. “Human beings,” he said. “How do you survive inside those tiny brains of yours?”

John couldn’t stop himself from laughing. “And you’re implying you’re something else? Yeah, I’d buy it.”

“Good,” said Sherlock as he grabbed hold of John’s wrist and squeezed tightly. “That’ll make this a lot easier.”

Before John was able to ask what the hell Sherlock was on about this time, he disintegrated.

*The Malthaby Galactic Bank is the only bank in existence that stays in business by making it common practise to keep its vaults completely empty. When a person opens an account with them, they are given a spade and an old coffee tin with instructions on the best w ay to bury their money to prevent it from being found by anyone else. Most Malthaby customers end up filing for bankruptcy within the next fortnight, as the instructions given to them are so effective that finding the buried coffee tins is impossible without the aid of a highly trained Arcturan Mega Bloodhound.

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Completely Normal #4

The problems with time travel are so innumerable and so vast that it is pointless to discuss them. There’s the problem with grammar, the problem with becoming and then killing your own grandfather, the complexities that arise when you cross your own timeline, the paradox of sending information back in time so someone can use that information in the future so that it can be sent back in time so someone can use that information in the future so that…

Time travel is a mess. Full stop. If you’re not careful with it, you can wind up in three different places at once. If you’re really not careful, all of those three different places may even be within a reasonable driving distance from one another on the same planet that will only momentarily be blown to pieces to make way for a hyperspace express route.

Which is why those familiar with the story of that wholly remarkable book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, may find that this story contradicts previous instalments of the story. If this is the case, your best course of action will be to simply make yourself a cup of tea and think back to all the previous instances where the Guide has contradicted itself, and just bundle this particular chapter of the Guide’s existence in with the rest of the bits that made no sense in or out of context.

And for those seeking higher enlightenment, you may find it helpful to apply this mantra to your daily life. If you do find a way in doing so, please notify the chronicler at once.

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Completely Normal #3

By the time John Watson had returned to the sitting room with his travel bag, the contents of which incidentally contained a towel which, though completely unbeknownst to him at this time, was the single most massively useful item he could have packed, Sherlock had managed to clear every shelf in time to apparently vacate the flat. Everything that had once been on a flat surface now lay scattered across the floor, leaving barely enough room to stand.

“Sherlock?” John called.

Shortly after Sherlock completely failed to respond, John noticed a small collection of items on the desk that hadn’t been thrown carelessly to the floor. From where he stood by the door, the items appeared to be a slim-ish plastic-covered book, a squarish black device with blinking lights, and smallish metal ring with blinking lights.

John spent a few moments engaged in some light soul-searching, during which time he could think of no possible way to respond to the current situation. So, he did what he always did whenever Sherlock Holmes did something that no logical human would have ever even considered acceptable behaviour. He retreated to the kitchen and put the kettle on.

Sherlock still hadn’t returned to 221b Baker Street by the water had boiled and the tea had been properly steeped, so John took his mug into the sitting room and began putting the books into fairly neat stacks on the floor. For a brief moment, he considered re-shelving all of them, but stopped when it occurred to him that it was entirely possible that Sherlock wanted them on the floor. He saw no reason that they couldn’t both be happy, leaving the books on the floor, while still leaving room to walk.

That John failed to see anything odd about his flatmate’s behaviour was not so much a testament to the ease with which Sherlock Holmes had managed to blend himself into society, but more of an example of just how much John was willing to accept. Human s will generally accept anything they’re told, so long as the person doing the telling knows how make illogic sound completely logical. In the Earth language knows as English, such people are generally known as politicians. John, being a fairly average example of humankind, had been coaxed and conditioned into believing a great many amount of lies and untruths: that there is gold at Fort Knox, that the British prime minster is elected by the people, and that in an infinite universe with an infinite amount of worlds, the only intelligent life exists on one wholly insignificant little blue-green planet in the Galaxy’s backwater regions.

It is because of this that while his flatmate was a very strange and eccentric person, John had no reason to suspect him of being anything other than human, rather than being from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. As it happened, Sherlock Holmes was indeed from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and had been living on Earth along with his semi-half-brother for approximately 30 local years. Luckily, most humans tend to be rather strange and eccentric, making only the very strange and eccentric stand out.

Which was why, when Sherlock bounded back up the stairs with a pig’s head in one hand and his BlackBerry in the other, John didn’t even blink.

“Mycroft, I am not hitching,” Sherlock said into his BlackBerry. “I’m not a student. I want a civilised way off this planet.”

Sherlock wandered into the kitchen, leaving John to continue stacking books as he cleared a path to the desk. John listened carefully for the sound of Sherlock arguing with the man John thought was just his brother, and satisfied that he was well and truly distracted, he picked up the square device. Near as he could tell, all it did was blink at him, first with a green light, and then with a red light. The ring seemed similarly useless, so John put them both down and reached fo r the book, which had the words ‘Don’t Panic’ written on the front in large, friendly letters.

It was not, John very quickly realised, like any other book from any Earth publishers (there were, in fact, three other copies of this book in England at that moment, all three of them, through a series of rather unfortunate time travel accidents, in the possession of one Ford Prefect. For more information on Ford Prefect, please see just about any other chapter in the Guide, the attached audio files, the image archives, and the extensive video library in the appendices). Rather than pages made from the dried pulp of tree trunks, it instead featured a fully digital display and hyper-intelligent voice commands, able to decipher and respond to any spoken language, and in a voice that spoke a dialect that was most likely to make the listener feel at ease.

John did not get to find this information out for himself, however, as Sherlock returned to the sitting room and snatched up the book and the blinking devices, shoving the lot of them into a laptop case.

“Unfortunately, Mycroft can’t get us a suitable lift, so we’re hitchhiking,” he declared with the same tone that one announces his own execution.

“Hitchhiking?” asked John. “What about the trains?”

“I can’t deal with your stupidity right now,” Sherlock said. “Perhaps you’d better just not talk at all.”

John frowned at him. “Or, here’s a better idea,” he said. “You could tell me what’s going on, because I haven’t got a clue.”

Sherlock began moving through the sitting room, stuffing more items into his case than should have been strictly possible. John saw this, and while he tried to convince himself that it was just lack of sleep playing tricks on his mind, he was fairly certain that Sherlock’s violin case should not have been able to fit inside the laptop case.

“What about your laptop?” John asked, pointing at where i t sat on the sofa.

Sherlock cast a pained glance at it, but shook his head. “Pointless. ‘Universal’ adapters are, after all, far from universal. It wouldn’t last more than a few hours.”

John blinked. “OK, this is where we go back to the part where I ask you to tell me what the hell is going on.”

Sherlock checked his watch. “In about nine hours, the world as we know it will end. And if we don’t get off this planet, we will end with it.”

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Completely Normal #2

It was completely normal for John Watson to find himself roused violently from his sleep by a loud crash or explosion from the first floor of 221b Baker Street. This was because John lived with a man who made a regular habit of dropping things from large heights or exploding things with no warning.

Usually, John was able to simply roll over and go back to sleep after whatever had been dropped had finished crashing, but it was a particularly early Thursday morning when his flatmate, Sherlock Holmes, continued to allow very heavy objects to crash to the floor in rapid succession.

Sleep was apparently optional on that particular Thursday, and in acceptance of this apparent fact, John rolled out of his bed on the second floor of the old house and pulled on his dressing gown before wandering downstairs to have words with his flatmate. Once in their sitting room, John found the man standing on top of his desk, which he had dragged over to the books helves by the fire, and tossing books across the room.

This was not a particularly strange thing for John to witness at half three in the morning, as his flatmate made a habit of being rather unusual. Sherlock was not conspicuously tall, his features were striking but not conspicuously handsome. His hair was curly and blackish and seemed at times to have a complete disregard for gravity. His skin seemed to be pulled backward from the nose. There was something very slightly odd about him, but it was difficult to say what it was. Perhaps it was that his eyes didn’t seem to blink often enough and when you talked to him for any length of time your eyes began involuntarily to water on his behalf. Perhaps it was that he smiled slightly too broadly and gave people the unnerving impression that he was about to go for their neck.

John had, at one point or another, noticed all of these details about his friend, but what he had failed to notice was Sherlock Holmes a fairly average representation of his species. The reason John had failed to notice this was because he had only ever met one other member of Sherlock’s species, and neither of them had given any real indication of being from a planet other than Earth.

It had never occurred to John to ask which planet Sherlock was from. Had he thought to ask, Sherlock would have told John that he was actually from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. But since the question was never asked, it went unanswered in turn, and John did as all humans tend to do and simply assumed that his friend was born somewhere in England – an assumption he had based solely off of Sherlock’s accent, which was nothing more than an accident of vowel stress and pronunciation from his own natural accent showing through a secondary language.

John watched his friend, who wasn’t from England, or even from Earth, as he tore apart his bookshelf, carelessly tossing antique and very expensive editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica across the room.

“Sherlock?” John ventured, hoping to catch the man’s attention.

“Busy,” Sherlock said as he threw another book. “World’s about to end.”

John heard this, turned it over in his mind, turned it over in a different direction, and dismissed it. “Is it?” he asked. “Should I put the kettle on, then?”

He started to make his way to the kitchen, hoping to perhaps get a bit of caffeine into his system since sleep wasn’t happening.

After a few moments, Sherlock finally seemed to have heard him and jumped down from his chair to chase after John.

“No time for tea,” he insisted, grabbing John by the shoulders and ushering him back toward the stairs. “The world’s about to end. Go change out of that. No one will pick us up if you look like that.”

John considered arguing for a moment, but ultimately decided against it. Anything he said would just be countered by something that made minimal sense, and he didn’t have the energy to try to grapple with Holmesian logic.

“Is there anything I should be wearing?” he asked. “I mean, is there a set wardrobe for the end of the world?”

Sherlock considered this. “Layers,” he said. “I’ve no idea where we’ll end up, so it’s best to be prepared.”

After that, he launched back into tearing apart the bookshelves, clearly looking for something that wasn’t actually there. John nodded simply and made his way back up to his room as he tried to work out just what about this entire situation felt slightly odd and more unusual than usual.

Coming up with nothing, he decided to pack a small case with enough variety in clothes to suit a road trip from the Sahara Desert to Siberia. Knowing Sherlock, it was entirely possible that they’d be doing exactly that.

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Completely Normal #1

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think internet video streaming is a pretty neat idea.

This planet has, completely unbeknownst to its ape-descended inhabitants, a growing problem. With so many worlds and star systems reaching the end of their life cycles and only so much space in the Galaxy, many races are forced to leave their homes and find lodging elsewhere. Many races can only survive in a very finite set of environments without the aid of anti- or extra-gravity suits, breathing apparatus, or seriously extensive reconstructive surgery. This further limits the number of suitable lodging for many of the galaxy’s races. Add to this the fact like all civilisations, even a place as modern as the Galaxy will have some backwater settlements with some extremely out-of-date views on matters such as race, colour, or creed, it can be nearly impossible for a person to relocate without the aid of trained professionals and an extensive database of all the Galaxy’s known inhabitable planets.

Such as it is, the planet known as Earth has become almost overrun by emigrants and refugees. Most of them blend in fairly easily, having only the smallest and unnoticeable of surplus anatomy. While the occasional few wind up on Earth by accident, claiming later to be unemployed actors on the dole, many more find their way to the planet intentionally, claiming later to be unemployed tech support workers on the dole.

This is not the story of an unemployed tech support worker. This is the story of an unemployed soldier, and a sort-of-but-not-really employed detective.

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