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Title: Arcane Rituals--Or a Typical Afternoon With Sherlock
Author: ciaranbochna 
Characters:
Sherlock, Pinhead
Rating: R (Extreme violence, see Hellbound Heart, Pinhead)
Crossover: Sherlock/Hellraiser
Genre: Horror, wee bit of humour
Warning: Did I mention the graphic violence? Sherlock-whumping (sorry) Spoilers for all episodes, to be safe.
Disclaimer: I own no characters or worlds mutilated or tormented with my writing.
Word Count: 3059 words
Author's Note: Beta'd by the wonderful  and brilliant caffienekitty  who gave me the plot bunny. Any mistakes, and general horrific grammar and writing are all owed to me. I wouldn't have posted this at all without her encouragement and lovely comments (even if I don't believe them;)

Summary: Sherlock thought it would be a convenient waste of five minutes.


If pain had a texture his skin would be armor of razors turned inward.

It was only a puzzle box. Sherlock thought it would be a convenient use of five minutes--no, three, but now his brain was occupied with pain-blocking techniques. Not terribly effective when he suspected his internal organs were dissolving.

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 The symbols on the cube had briefly grabbed his attention in a rubbish shop in Portobello Road. He had wondered what an object covered in Elder Futhark runes were doing there. The cube didn't resemble any antique he had ever seen. The script changed again--while he was observing it. Sumerian, Greek, Ogham tree alphabet, medieval French (LeMarchand?), and then letters he had seen once on a scrap of pottery found in the Aegean.

Sherlock looked in the corners around the window, searching for a light projector, or wires coming from the box that were hooked to LEDs. He had a case once where a psychic (human beings were so gullible) had inserted tiny battery-powered LEDs behind her eyelids to back her medium claims. For someone claiming to be "Madame Romana" her aim with a knife was more suited to american baseball, and less to the metaphysical realm. Having this information in his hard drive was John's fault, he didn't see the point of barbaric and meaningless games, but he hadn't deleted the info for some reason.

So, there was a box. Black, non-metallic didn’t feel particularly heavy but warmed too quickly to be plastic. Bakelite? No. Smell wasn’t right, nor was the taste. Taste…

Sherlock remembered immolating one of Mycroft’s ties when he was 10. Something about the decay rate of organic matter in a controlled environment. He needed silk, and Mycroft’s gold cigarette case was well suited (puns? banal) to the occasion. Why did he recall that?

The box tasted of ashes, but of nothing he had ever used. Only a recollection of flame and bones. He tasted calcium, traces of iron.

The shopkeeper cleared his throat a fifth time (perhaps longer, Sherlock hadn’t noticed during his examination).

“Sir? What—“

“Where did you acquire this box? Is it a prop? Certainly not an antique, but the rubbish in these shops now… Is it paste over copper? Tastes...” He paused and touched his tongue to his cheek.

“It is yours sir. No price, take it.” The man smiled and Sherlock noticed his teeth were dark, like he had used ohaguro. The Japanese practice of teeth-darkening would be out of place here.  Something with more legs than a spider crawled in the shop owner’s tangled black hair.

“Nothing is free. Especially in London. What do you want?” Sherlock’s hand tingled like he had touched a light socket. Fond memories.

“I? Nothing sir. It is up to you to…”

Sherlock scoffed. “Enigmatic shop owners are not amusing, in films or out of them.” He dug into his wallet and thrust twenty pounds under the owner’s greasy nose.

The man shrugged and took the note. Sherlock was careful not touch him. Hygiene had some importance.

“Enjoy your exploration—“

Sherlock was halfway down the street before he realized the man had spoken. He shrugged and hailed a cab.

 This would prove an interesting diversion.

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Sherlock falls into a pained daze feeling the metal sublimating under his skin

His parents and Mycroft have tortured smiles on their faces. Sherlock knows it is a horrific noise.

But the violin is HIS now. Protest as they might, he will stay in his room and provoke all the sounds he can from the instrument, smiling as he imagines the hands over ears in the sitting room below him. Eventually, the grimaces will give way to true smiles, but he refuses to give a performance after the first time he picks up the violin, warming it with his fingers. Oh he will antagonize Mycroft plucking the strings, but it isn’t the same.

He can bring all the thoughts whirling in his mind, focus them with the bow and pull everything together from the strings—and no one will hear it but him.

Until John.

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There was no hidden catch to open the puzzle box (and since it felt empty he posited that it might hold a scroll, something similar). Sherlock walked into the flat and threw his coat in the general direction of John’s chair. He collapsed on the sofa, tucked his legs under him and pondered the object. Sherlock had plenty of time before John returned from work.

It was now five minutes total spend with the box, a new record. He frowned. Sherlock kept returning to the circle on the top of the box, feeling compelled to run his finger over it once, twice, a third time then pressed the symbol with his thumb. He stopped and glared at his hand.

Blindly following instincts, no. This required careful analysis. The cube was warmer than when he picked it up, much more than his body temperature. Self-contained heat, a chemical hand-warmer or such? Whatever was inside must be new, otherwise the battery would expire from sitting idle—a chemical reaction of some kind. If he opened it now, perhaps a lapful of acid. Sherlock smiled and rose to get a Petri dish from under the toaster. Relatively clean at least.

 He sat back on the couch placed the box in the Petri dish and set it on the table. No reaction to acid or bases—not plastic. Could the shop owner have given him a hypnotic suggestion to see the languages on the box? Not that he was susceptible to such things, but it bore further thought. He believed the owner to be an idiot, but his acting skills could be above average at least. Painted with hallucinogens would be more likely.

Sherlock was certain he had the living room’s lights on, but he was having trouble seeing as far as the kitchen. He could barely see the skull on the fireplace, and the window light was dimmer than he remembered. He dug out a lighter from under the cushions and checked his pupil response in a pocket mirror—useful things for peering around corners without engendering a bullet. Eyes appeared fine, but where was the gloom coming from?

The walls were glowing faintly blue.

Unless Mycroft had installed some new surveillance without his knowledge (faint possibility, but he would never admit it), then something new was afoot. There was a sound—like playing the violin with the back of his bow. Play Berlioz later, he noted. Then--the sound of someone with part of their vocal chords removed trying to scream. Sherlock flexed his hands, fingers suddenly numb.

Sherlock stared at the puzzle box, then at the blue-fissured walls. The symmetry of the symbols on the box. If he compared the sides—six on the bottom, five on the left, four right, three on top, down to—

“One. So I see.” The symbols shifted once more to high German. They read:

 Pain has a face, allow me to show it to you.

A summoning ritual. Sherlock had never found one that he couldn’t disprove, until now. He had lost more than one flat carving a pentagram into the floor. He had hoped that the rituals he tried would be more varied, but alas everyone favoured stars, and that pompous idiot Crowley.

He didn’t need a lighter anymore; the flat was enveloped in a mortuary glow. It appeared as if the wall was pulling apart. Sherlock knew the building was constructed in the late 19th century, but there are no 1930s sliding walls. Besides, the wall that was opening faced the alley behind, there was nothing through it.

Sherlock had a fleeting thought that John coming home early would be problematic.

His eyebrow lifted when he heard the chains. You would think someone had invested too much time in A Christmas Carol. He and Mycroft had a debate once about the economic implications of an employer who tried caring for his workforce to the extreme. Sherlock tapped a finger to his chin. Another irrelevant memory.

Something was coming though the impossible space behind the wall. His skin felt as if it was crawling away from him—curious.

The figure that stepped through the wall was pale, more so than Sherlock himself. Piercings through exposed muscle, the skin shorn away. How was there no blood? Monk—with that long coat perhaps, but no, it is leather, and the nails protruding from his bald skull say no. Black eyes, no whites, yet no visible contact rims.

Sherlock’s breath frosted the air, sounding almost like he was hyperventilating. As if he were…concerned.

Broken bone protruding though skin. Mycroft twists his ankle in a fox hole running after Sherlock. Sherlock and Mycroft stare fascinated at the wound until Mycroft shouts—“Get Mummy, now Sherlock!!” And Sherlock runs.

The tang of blood in the air now, as it was then. The flashbacks were closer together now.

“You called. I have come” The figure had a deep voice that thrummed though Sherlock’s bones like the skin of a drum.

Sherlock snorted “No call. I merely required a solution to this.” He raised the box. The method is unique. The count on the box though—banal.” He placed it on the table in front of him.

“You summoned me. Now we must play.” The pierced man continued. He gestured to the ceiling and the steel chains fell around him, barbed fishhooks on the ends.

“I have heard some clubs in London cater to this sort of thing. What are you really here for?” Sherlock leaned back. Cold traveled up his arms, into his chest, as if he were being locked into a morgue drawer.

The pinned man paused and examined Sherlock as if he were the experiment. “There is a country called agony, allow me to be your guide. You are never satisfied; I have experiences enough for three lifetimes.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “Are you djinn then? I think you will find I am not frivolous enough to wish. Judging by your dress I would say conventional things like gold are out of the question. What is it you tell people when they are soiling themselves in fear? That they asked for this? Well, I suppose they did seeing the hypnotic language on the box. But why did you call them? What are they needed for?” He felt breathless, like he was chasing a criminal down an alley.

The pale creature flicked a finger out and one of the barbed chains flew out and the end dug burrowed into Sherlock’s left thigh. He hissed. His leg was on fire.

“I see. I am not permitted to ask then.” Sherlock grimaced as he felt gingerly around the barb. “You can manipulate your surroundings very well; control the gullible who summon you—all with this.” He picked up the box and stared at the morphing script. “Cenobite.” The dark spot in his vision subsided when he stopped prodding the wound. Hook best left where it is for now.

The creature rippled like a painting on a silk screen. “Names. We will have time for that. But now I owe you a catatonic blessing.”

The razor armour bled Sherlock of thought.

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 When he awoke there were five hooks embedded in him. Two in his upper arms, one in his chest, and another in his right leg, to match the one in the left. All of them seemed embedded in muscle, so pulling them out might be detrimental. Trifles compared to what else the cenobite had “blessed” him with.

Metal was under every part of his skin. How it had got there…the hooks? Almost as if something in them was aware. Sherlock tried to move. The armour constricted his limbs until he was barely conscious. Keeping him immobile was the creature’s goal. He frowned.

The hooks shivered with his breath, and pressed in deeper. A painful purpose, confirmed

Sherlock opened his eyes a second time. Losing consciousness twice in the space of a day—the creature was well versed in torture that was evident. He tried to speak, but his mouth filled with blood as the metal his tongue moved against his palate. Rather than risk coughing, he let it drip from his lips.

“Now you will join us Sherlock. I believe you may be our best playmate in eons.” The pinned man smiled, pleased with his work.

Sherlock barely felt the box in his palm, but it was enough. He didn’t need to speak for this.

You can manipulate your subject, creature, but I have your collar. Sherlock glared at the demon.

 Sherlock stared at the cenobite. If the box was used to summon, there must be a way to banish it. Every ritual that he had tried had one.

The cenobite tilted his head slightly. “You are amusing, little thing.” He said.

Sherlock knew it wouldn’t be as simple as reversing the numeric series, but a word—you could bring down a kingdom with a well-placed phrase, and this despot was boring him.

Sherlock remembered that each panel of the cube had one symbol that had remained static. He touched his disintegrating fingers to each picture, observing the leather-clad figure’s expression.

It almost appeared—worried?

Every language has a symbol for balance, or reversal. The Futhark was the first he touched (wyrd, for binding), then Tibetan, Pictish, binary, and finally Magi—there were some implications in the thing’s origin with that.

“There is no going back once our pleasures are unbound” The cenobite stepped close to Sherlock.

Sherlock remembered his first successful experiment. He had been pleased with the results. Mummy had not appreciated the new hole in the hardwood. Now he could smell the singeing wood, and feel the glow of his success. Sherlock blinked. Too many memories had surfaced, and he wasn’t prone to reminisce, or daydream. Something about the cenobite was triggering it—or was it even what it claimed to be?

“For someone well-versed in torture, you appear eager to bring up pleasant memories” Sherlock struggled though the words, now that his tongue was free of metal.

First binding successful.

The cenobite flung a hand to the ceiling. Nothing happened.

Sherlock smiled. “Puzzles are tools of the mind. Anything closed may be opened, and vice versa.”

The puzzle box unfolded in his hand like infernal origami, expanding and rising to hover in the air. It moved fluidly, the gold glyphs on its surfaces flowing to cover the shadowed background. The sheet of mysteries sinuated toward the pinned man.

“This is not the way. Your experience is not complete. You—“ The cenobite growled, his metallic teeth sparked as he spoke.

“I am not your subject. Whatever your dimension might be, it is not a democracy. Your captor was right to leave you there. This has been briefly diverting, but now it is over.”  Sherlock could feel the barbs in his limbs dissolve simultaneously. He breathed with relief.

“You are more aware than the others.” The cenobit conceded. The puzzle shroud covered his finger, quickly moving up his arm and over his chest until his body was bound by it. “Inside, outside, over and through.” He rumbled.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Oh yes, you are children’s nightmare, faerietales of old, many names you had had--banal.” Sherlock spat the last of the blood out of his mouth. “I am sure you were here before this planet was formed. The energy needed to punch holes through, and keep a dimension stable for you is staggering.”

The cenobite stood, hobbled and gilded. “It is not always a nightmare required by the dreamer.”  Something lighter in his eyes--silver.

Dreams. Was this the creature’s providence, not torture? Sherlock pondered.

The pins in his skull were absorbed into it. White hair flowed out in its place. He pulled the puzzle around him, revealing black pants and a shirt, fabric with no weave that moved around him like an eel. His eyes were night scattered with meteors and stars.

“You are partly correct Sherlock. Stories are my realm. A Dreamlord would be nothing without them.”

“Take the hellish re-decoration with you when you leave. I don’t think John would fancy it.” Sherlock sat up and walked shakily over to the desk and logged onto John’s laptop. His fingers were still numb as he typed.

“Oh John, your passwords are so pedestrian. Hawking--really?” Sherlock looked up at the perfectly restored flat. “Good.” The spots in his vision were returning. Not long now.

The starry-eyed visitor was standing in the middle of the room watching Sherlock. Perhaps John did have a point about close observation being unnerving.

“Take care whose toys you tamper with in the future Sherlock Holmes. My sister Delirium is quite fond of you, but I cannot speak for the rest.” With that the room was empty.

All in all an interesting day. There might be time for another hypothesis proved before John returned. His guest had left the flat cleaner than when he entered, so there was certainly enough space to repeat his childhood experiment, and improve upon it. Sherlock grinned and gathered the chemicals from a hidden panel in the kitchen cupboard.

The Dreamlord. Morpheus? If Sherlock could control dreams perhaps he could help John sleep.

Anthropomorphic representations exist. He filed that for future study. He should change clothes, this suit was ruined. John didn’t need to know about today, it would only upset him again.

“Sherlock?” He hears John call. 

Must retain consciousness long enough to explain. He could almost smell John’s presence through the blood. Faint antiseptic, cordite from last night’s incident, Earl Grey tea… Sherlock sways on his feet and smiles.

He should probably dispose of the puzzle box before some pathetic idiot got hold of it. He shuddered to think what might transpire if something like Anderson found it. Much as it galls him, he could ask Mycroft (but then he would know everything—not advisable). 

Time. He was never paying enough attention to its passing. It would be easier if he could manipulate reality as well. There must be other summoning devices waiting for his expertise.  If he could determine the method by which the creatures controlled their environment--

He heard a deep “No.” behind and off to the left.

Perhaps some recovery time first. The floor looked terribly inviting.

 


Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
lurkingwombat
Nov. 22nd, 2010 07:42 am (UTC)
That m'lady was well worth the wait!! Very fun. Loved how you brought in the Dreamlord. Is that just you or do they hint at it in the films?
So will Sherlock be finding any other artifacts in the future? Maybe finding an out-of-place police box down an alley?
hugs
Lurking Wombat
(First!)
ciaranbochna
Nov. 22nd, 2010 07:52 am (UTC)
Oh well, thanks:) Oh hells bells no, Dream was just me and my warped brain..lol Oh I don't know if I could handle a Doctor Who crossover, so don't hold your breath..lol

Hugs
lurkingwombat
Nov. 22nd, 2010 07:56 am (UTC)
Dream was a very cool inspiration. Loved that!
Oh c'mon...Sherlock could find the Police Box and figure out a way in and just find it empty. Wouldn't ever cross paths with the owner. ;)
hugs
Lurking Wombat
caffienekitty
Nov. 23rd, 2010 06:19 am (UTC)
Woo! Very cool! (Small note, you might want to end with an elipse insted of a comma, so people reading won't think there's an accidentally missing bit) Like I said, I don't know much about the crossover 'verse but I've got a much clearer picture of what's happening now.

SO! Are you going to post a link to it over on sherlockbbc? Rec day is a week away. :-)
ciaranbochna
Nov. 23rd, 2010 06:26 am (UTC)
Will do, thanks:)

Err, do I have enough gumption(it's late, the language is odd) for that sort of leap? *ponders*
lurkingwombat
Nov. 24th, 2010 04:33 am (UTC)
do it....doooo eeeet!!
mysterypoet66
Nov. 24th, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
I *love* Sherlock in this. Love his response, love it.
The tone and atmosphere work well.
The shop is brilliant.
I think there's not enough preamble or explanation in adding, "Dreamlord," or, "Delirium," into the setting.
I've been a Clive Barker fan for more than 20 years, and those bits jerked me out of what was otherwise a very taut and true to 'verse bit of storytelling.

ciaranbochna
Nov. 24th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
Thank you for the feedback, that other bit of crossover snuck up on me as I wrote it..lol I am glad you liked it--I was rather worried about setting the Barker tone;)
mysterypoet66
Nov. 24th, 2010 04:57 am (UTC)
Actually, what worked for me about the overall tone, is that Sherlock has an understanding of the darkness. The reasons the Cenobites *work* in print and on film, have to do with what they expose in us. You've nailed that to the WALL.
I think the additional crossover might work, with a bit more integration, fwiw. As is, it presumes a knowledge of 'verses all readers won't have.
ciaranbochna
Nov. 24th, 2010 05:25 am (UTC)
I was suggesting delving into the shadow within, kind of you to say:)

This is why I usually keep to poetry rather than fiction I think..lol Thank you for the suggestion though.
(Deleted comment)
ciaranbochna
Nov. 25th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
Thanks, and I agree he certainly shouldn't be alone..lol

Love your icon btw;)
karadin
Nov. 24th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
Barker and Sherlock! Well done! (though I agree with other commenter, I only know Sandman in passing, it would be nice to stay in two universes.

Edited at 2010-11-24 02:03 pm (UTC)
ciaranbochna
Nov. 25th, 2010 01:41 am (UTC)
Thank you:)
soappuppy
Nov. 24th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
That was absolutely lovely. Spot-on Sherlock. I had a fine time being inside his head. And excellent, in-character reactions to a very believable triple(?) crossover.

My inner grammar beast begs you to snip through and check for typos, because this delectable little morsel is too good to have such mundane things as typos ("grinner" instead of "grinned") living in it. :)

Wonderful! Bravo!
ciaranbochna
Nov. 25th, 2010 01:43 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, I appreciate that:)

Fixed the typo, thanks;)
byrons_brain
Nov. 24th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
WOW great fic! you can really cross Sherlock with anyone or thing...
ciaranbochna
Nov. 25th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
Thank you. Sherlock is a fairly adaptable genius, at least in fic..lol
lurkingwombat
Nov. 25th, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
Keep the good work and write more fic.
Soon you will be rivaling caffienekitty for "most comments" on a story :)
L. Wombat
ciaranbochna
Nov. 25th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
It is to laugh--muah ha ha!! Also, you are delusional, but I believe I have told you before:P More comments than CK *pfffffffttth* at you.
caffienekitty
Dec. 5th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
I've got stories posted that have less than five comments on them, so yep you officially do have more comments than me! :-)
samalander_dawn
Dec. 11th, 2010 07:11 am (UTC)
I like!

I'm still deciding if I should have read this or not, but I like! :D nicely done!
ciaranbochna
Dec. 12th, 2010 07:57 am (UTC)
Thanks:) I am rather worried that you read it and I have planted the seeds of nightmares though.
lastwordy_mcgee
Dec. 29th, 2010 03:49 am (UTC)
Very pleased. Very, very pleased. As a longtime Barker and Gaiman fan, I really enjoyed this.

I think he is Delirium's creature, ultimately. But I think all of the Endless have a reasonable claim to him, though Desire is probably the most frustrated.

Hmmm. That might be a plot bunny now :) I'll credit you with the inspiration, if I ever do anything with it.
ciaranbochna
Dec. 29th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
Oh good!! I was worried a bit there..lol I believe he belongs to Delerium as well--I have a plot bunny about that lurking somewhere..lol

Go with it, I am thrilled to be inspiration, and would love to read it;)
lastwordy_mcgee
Dec. 30th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
I've favorite'd this and rec'd it to a few friends too :) I keep thinking about that plot bunny... I'm just having a hard time deciding which Endless "belongs" to which character. Lestrade is proving particularly problematic!
ciaranbochna
Dec. 30th, 2010 05:38 am (UTC)
I am honoured to be rec'd:)

Lestrade doesn't have an immediate association, no. Good luck!
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )