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Fic: Decay is Eloquent [BBC Sherlock]

Title: Decay is Eloquent
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Rating: Teen
Characters: Sherlock, John, Donovan
Length: 467
Alternate Link: AO3
Author's Notes: Written for the watsons_woes JWP Prompt 2015 #3: Skull-leaf picture. Unbeta'd.
Warnings: Includes description of a gruesome crime scene.
Summary: The killer hadn't accounted for the unseasonable heat wave.

The stench of decay, noticeable in the blazing sunlight outside the abandoned house, became nearly over-whelming as they stepped into the sweltering twilight within. John recoiled with a rough, choking sound and retreated to join the suspiciously large crowd of officers 'securing the scene' outside.

Sherlock pulled out his torch and began examining the bodies. He took deep, even breaths, remembering Redbeard digging eagerly through a pile of dry leaves to reveal the tiny, long-dead squirrel deliquescing beneath.

Two adult males, two adult females, and one male child. Sherlock would need to be especially careful to document any evidence on and around the boy. Anderson was worse than useless when it came to the forensics of young victims.

"- not a serial killer after all, John, this is the work of a spree killer," he was explaining when John finally reappeared, philtrum smeared with a white, mentholated cream.

John offered a small jar of the cream. Sherlock shook his head. "The scent of putrescine and cadaverine never bothered me much, even as a child."

"Well, that explains a lot," John said, tucking the jar in his pocket. "What makes you say this was a spree killer?"

"The victims were all killed within a day of each other."

"Are you sure? Even, err, that one in the corner?" John said, gesturing queasily towards the large female corpse in the corner, which was moving past the bloat stage into active decay.

"Absolutely," Sherlock said. "Decay is eloquent, once one understands the various factors which influence it. That corpse has a significantly higher body fat ratio than the rest, which has accelerated the decay processes. But the entomological evidence is irrefutable."

"Entomological?" John asked, with that peculiar half-smile that showed he was enjoying this, and thought he ought not to be.

"Mmmm. Calliphoridae flies and some species of beetle. With closer study in the lab, I should be able to determine if the victims were killed here or moved from somewhere outside of London. And a child this age is certain to have been reported missing from his primary school, so once we narrow down the region it will be easy to identify him and the rest of his family."

"Fantastic," John said admiringly, just as Donovan walked in the door.

"Time's up, freak," she said, gesturing to the forensic team hovering behind her. "You two deserve each other," she muttered to John as he brushed past her on the way out.

"Ta for that," John replied, returning her jar of cream.

Donovan shoved it in her pocket with a grimace. John caught Sherlock's eye and grinned. Sherlock found himself returning the smile, even as his mind raced ahead to the tests he would need to perform on the tiny specimens in his pocket in order for them to give up their secrets.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 4th, 2015 09:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, reixilu, that is delightful feedback!
Jul. 4th, 2015 04:49 pm (UTC)
Very well done! You sound like you really know your stuff :) I'm very impressed by the forensic science you employed (if that's the word I want) and the relationship between John and Sherlock was spot on.
Jul. 4th, 2015 09:37 pm (UTC)
One long-ago physical anthropology course and Google allow me to fake it quite convincingly, I guess! The real challenge is to make it sound like Sherlock knows what he's talking about, without leaving readers confused. Thank you for the comment, stellinia!
Jul. 5th, 2015 01:01 am (UTC)
You're very welcome :)
Jul. 5th, 2015 10:24 am (UTC)
I love the clinical tone you set to this investigation.
Also, for the win: New word of the day: deliquescing
Jul. 5th, 2015 08:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It is such a precise, descriptive word for that biological process.
Jul. 6th, 2015 04:52 am (UTC)
I know very little about murder scenes and the rate of decay on human bodies -that particular subject was carefully ignored at university- but I found this very believable and well written, including John-Sherlock interactions.
Jul. 6th, 2015 06:48 am (UTC)
*chuckles* Probably wise. Thank you for the comment, rojo3131!
Jul. 20th, 2015 03:48 am (UTC)
Great use of detail and description! I'm rather glad LJ doesn't have the equivalent of scratch-n-sniff for this one, though... ;-)
Jul. 20th, 2015 11:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, that would be unfortunate, wouldn't it? We would need a whole other set of content warnings. Thanks, methylviolet10b.

I really appreciate the time and thought you put into leaving all these comments on my JWP stories. What a wonderful surprise to wake up to!
Jul. 21st, 2015 05:56 am (UTC)
My pleasure! I try to read as many of the JWP stories as I can during July, because I really appreciate how tough a challenge this is. You make it look easy. :-)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )