Copyright Mette Ivie Harrison 2014 all
The Adventures of
Holmes and the Amnesiac
My dear wife,
I am well aware of your great dislike for the danger that accompanies my
friend Holmes. It is due to that that I regrained
from writing of this incident earlier. I had rather hoped to keeo the whole of these facts secret,
however, I find my mind unable to release the scene of late occurred, playing
them back with continnuing intensity, similar to a
broken phonograph. I therefore am setting to paper these latest events in the
hopes of clearing my mind. I hope they do not upset your delicate nerves. I
will remind you that all the excitement is now passed and you need no longer
fear for my well being.
I was in Oxford, attending an assembly of the medical profession, as I
said before I left. We were hearing a lecture on the effects of long term
amnesia (loss of memory) when I heard a familiar voice interrupt the speaker.
Looking in the directionfrom which it came, I found
it was indeed my friend Sherlock Holmes who was so behemently
attacking the theory in question (which was, that long term amnesia patients
may adjust to a completely normal life, thus lessening the strain on their
overworked brain and hastening recovery). I myself had had qualms concerning
this very subject and Holmes proved me quite corredt,
as you shall see.
"I beg to differ, my dear sir," said Holmes rather too loudly
to be ignored.
The speaker, not to be outdone by this upstart replied with even more
alacrity, "You beg to differ with me, Sir? And who are you?"
Never to lose an opporunity to preen himself, Holmes continued. "I, Sir, am Mr. Sherlock
Holmes. And I would like to put a few questions to your theory."
The speaker could hardly refuse, as all his esteemed colleagues sat
with eager eyes upon the two. He nodded.
"Suppose," argued Holmes. "Just suppose that our amnesia
patient was from a remote corner of the earth. A part so different as to have
no similarities with present-day England at all. Yet at each step an eerie
sense of recollection seems to haunt him. Continually he is reminded by
unfamiliar scenes that he is not where he should be, but for the life of him,
he cannot remember where it is he came from. Spontaneous reactions for our
hypothetical case are quite different. So different as to make everyday life
dangerous, new things a hazard. Using your prescription for this patient, naught
would occur but a continual feeling of ill ease, growing daily until either
suicide or natural causes killed him."
I agreed with every word Holmes said, and in fact had been about to interrupt
and ask a similar question. The Speaker, however, was not at all pleased. He
appeared to be turning different shades of red, and when Holmes ended his
speech, bowed out rather ungracefully by attacking Holmes' own question.
"Sir, I would not hesitate to ask, if I thought an answer could be
forthcoming, where such a place is that is so totally different from England
yet nostalgic to the patient. I certainly have never encountered such a case.
I also doubt that any of my distinguished fellow workers would come across
such a case." And with that, he retired.
I ran over to catch Holmes and congratulate him on his brilliant
strategy as the group broke up for a short break. My old friend seemed
delighted to see me and took my arm, propelling me outside.
"Ah, Watson. I should have known you'd be here. Well, what do you
I quite agree with you, Holmes, but may I ask you where you came across
such a case, for I know you must be speaking of a particular person,"
"Quite correct, Watson. Quite correct. Must you stay here?" I
shook my head, glad of a chance to retreat from the odor and heat of 200
fellow doctors in so small a space."
ANd so we hopped on the nearest train,
and returning to London, took the underground to Hyde Park. Ascertaining that
no one was following us, he took me to a small corner near the serpentine,
covered with trees. As the trees all looked so very natural, I cuahgt Holmes' arm, hacking away at them, asking if he
knew the penalty of vandalism in a Royal Park. He assured me he did, so I let
It was not long before the undergrowth was cleared away when I saw what
looked like an elaborately decorated chair. Disappointed, I asked Holmes what
His eyes aglow in that familiar manner, he lowered his voice to a
whisper. "This, Watson, is a time machine."
I laughed, then grew serious. If Holmes had
been taking more of that cocaine again, it could well destroy him.
He perceived my thoughts and attempted to eliminate my doubts.
"Watson, I give you my word of honour, I
haven't taken a dose of cocaine in over three months. This is a machine which
can travel through time and its owner is who I was speaking of."
I decided to play along with his game. "A time traveller
with amnesia?" I asked. I, too had read H.G.
Wells' novel on this subject.
"Yes, you see, he didn't know what the consequences of it would
be, so he tried it out on himself. What did he say? Oh, yes. He called
himself a human guinea pig." Holmes had really thought this joke out
thoroughly before putting it to me.
"What was his name?" I asked, for lack of anything better.
"He had amnesia, you see, he never could tell me his real name. I
called him Washington, after the first American President."
Holmes' logic was beginning to wear thin now. "If he had amnesia,
how did you find this machine or figure it to be used in time
"Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary. I observed him. In a
matter of minutes, I knew where. In a day, I knew when he came from. His
shoes were my first clue. They were not muddied, but rather discolored and
then streaked with green. By examining the discoloration, I found it to be
the work of water, firsti mmersed
in it, then removed quickly. It could be any water, however, so I turned to
the green for my final discovery. Obviously the streaks came from grass, but
the grass happened to be a peculiar bluish color found only in this corner of
Hyde Park, being planted here myself as an experiment on the similarity of
London and Kentucky smog conditions. I found him wandering about Trafalgar
Square, and returning with him here, found the time machine.
"I was at a loss to know what it was, and realized that Washington
would be no help at all. I attempted to return it to my flat for observation.
It was, however, too heavy for me to carry alone, and wishing it to remain
undiscovered for the time being, at least, I covered it with these brnaches and took Washington to 221 B Baker Street.
"He almost got killed on the way there, apparently being ignorant
of the fact that carriage maintain right of way even when pedestrians are
crossing. This being my first clue, as to when he came from, I knew that it
was nowhere where carriages were. This left Alaska--or sometimes in the
distant past or future (of which I had not yet thought of). Settling him in
your room for the night--I trust you do not mind, Watson?"
I assured him I did not.
"I began to play. No sooner had I finished the first few bars of
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony than I heard the unconscious humming of my new
acquaintance. It was then I began to think of this Washington's clothing,
hairstyle and ignorance of carriages but knowledge of Beethoven. Through the
night I played. And when I'd played everything I had music for, I made up my
own. And where--when he was from--came to me in a flash."
"Awakening the next morning to the smell of Mrs. Hudson's biscuits,
I was determined to use the time machine myself and prove my theory either
right or wrong. It was not a difficult instrument to operate. I turned on
what it said to turn on and set a date. Ten years in the future. A second of
humming and I got out. There was nothing changed, and I felt my
disappointment keenly. I decided to return home and see if I could get any
help at all from Washington.
"I was walking up the steps when I heard a familiar voice. At
first I thought it was yours, but the person coming out of the house, I
recognized the real owner as myself. The time machine must have, in fact,
worked. I hurried back to Hyde Park to return to my own time and advise
Washington of who he was--hoping it would jar his memory.
"On returning home, however, I found Washington missing, and
asking Mrs. Hudson heard a vague reference to going out for a bite to eat.
There was very little chance of my ever seeing Washington alive again if I
did not go to work quickly. I sent for the Baker Street Irregulars, giving them
each a detailed description of Washington's clothes, by far his most
"Then I set out on my own, trying to figure where I would go, were
I Washington. My instincts led me back to Traflagar
Square. But he was nowhere in the neighborhood. I returned home, discouraged
after two hours, only to find Washington home again.
"I gave each of the Irregulars a bob in return for their excellent
services, and proceeded to question Washington,
breaking it to him gently that he was in the wrong time.
"He would not accept it, though, looking at me much the way you
are now. I could tell he was a scientist, so I tried to prove it to him, but
still he would not listen, and told me he would be obliged if he could
retire. Feeling the discussion could go nowhere, I agreed.
"The next day a client came to see me and Washington asked to go
with me. I was so involved in the case, that I hardly noticed his growing
uneasiness. When we returned home at past midnight for a light tea, I noticed
something of a madman's raving eyes in his face. He still would not hear of
the future, however, and we both slept fitfully, if at all, that night. I
woke him up the next mrorning and asked him to
accompany me around London, hoping I could get some sort of revelation as to
how far in the future he belonged, determinding to
send him back whether or not he was willing.
"I waited too long. The next day I found his room empty and bed unslept in. Rushing outdoors, I--
Watson--The machine is gone. I destroyed it. Too dangerous.
Your friend, Holmes.
Lest the whole world agree to put me away, burn this letter on reading.
Your faithful husband,
John H. Watson.
Return to home page