Scent

Jul. 25th, 2011 11:38 pm
leone: (Default)
[personal profile] leone
Title: Scent
Author: [personal profile] leone
Rating: PG-13
Character(s): John Watson, his parents, his brother, Mary Morstan, Sherlock Holmes
Summary: Young John Watson encounters a series of scents that do not (yet) evoke any memories.
Warnings: character death
Author's Notes: Fill for July 25th prompt: "Whether your supernatural (ie. otherworldly or beyond-worldly) experience proves to be man-created or simply imaginary, or you go the route of yes-ghosts/demons/vampires/freakythingsthatgobumpinthenight-do-exist, you must make the experience sufficiently terrifying.  Pull out all the stops on those spooky old organs and try your best to creep your fellow authors (and poor Watson by default) out of their flat-footed-on-the-ground status."
Word Count: 505

 

It started with biscuits. The scent of caramelising sugar was quite distinctive, and although his mother was happy to take a hint and bake some for tea when he asked about it, Watson never found out who was responsible for the scent in the first place. A few days later, there was the yeasty scent of bread, and then again the next week there was a roast in a wine sauce. Mother began to look at him askance, and so he stopped asking, but after a month or two, Watson became quiet good at distinguishing her cooking from the other cooking.

It was not until his parents had finally hired a new chambermaid, thus improving the general atmosphere of the house, that Watson began to notice the subtler scents. Once it was a woman’s perfume; the same evening there was a pomade—quite similar to his father’s, in fact, but today Father was not wearing any. Much later that evening he thought he caught a hint of roses, although they were out of season just then. He caught himself walking around the parlour, sniffing the corners, and quickly threw some wood on the fire, inhaling the smoke deeply to clear his nose—or at least distract it.

For several more months there was nothing new—except for the extra cooking, of course, which was a constant presence. Then one afternoon he felt assaulted by a very strong combination of disinfectant, with a hint of blood. It was so powerful that he even asked his brother about it, but tonight Harry had been at the liquor cabinet, and although he was happy enough to sniff around, his nose was too pickled for delicate scents. By the evening it was gone again.

For several weeks afterward there was nothing stronger than a gentle hint of talcum powder, and the occasional sour whiff that could have been nothing more than the drains reacting to rainy weather. Then the disinfectant scent returned. Occasionally it was interspersed with blood, never as strongly as the first time, but constant. The meal scents became infrequent, and finally stopped, and then there was a strong morning of blood and disinfectant, but after it ended, there was nothing more.

For a year or more Watson puzzled over the strange scents, but eventually they faded from his memory. They returned only once, when the doctor came out of his parents’ bedroom, smelling of disinfectant and something less pleasant. He drew Father aside and they spoke quietly, and at the funeral Father had let him wear some of his pomade.

Twenty years later, Mary Morstan’s perfume tickled his nose, and somewhere he felt that it was familiar to him—but then, many of Holmes’s clients were ladies, and doubtless many of them wore perfume. But Miss Morstan was not like the other ladies, and although he felt ridiculous taking such pains (especially when he saw Holmes take the revolver from his drawer), he put a little pomade in his hair before they met her that evening.


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