January 3 rd , 1997
I'm sorry that I haven't written to you in some time. Things have been rather busy here at home. It'll probably be your birthday by the time you get this, so Happy Birthday, dear. I've attached a couple of little presents with this letter and I do hope you like them.
Mycroft got his promotion at work and we're all very happy for him, but unfortunately our celebration was overshadowed by an unfortunate event that will probably hurt you more than anyone. The vet informed us that Redbeard was far too sick to ever be expected to recover. The poor thing was put to sleep yesterday afternoon. I am so very sorry, Sherlock. I know Redbeard meant a great deal to you and I wish you had been with him when he died. He was your best friend and he loved you just as much as you love him, if not more. We've made a little grave for him out by your favourite tree. He'll rest near the place you two had the most fun together.
It's okay to be upset if that's how you're feeling right now. Losing someone you care about is one of the hardest things to deal with in life, but you're my boy and I know you can endure. If you need anything, your father and I are just a phone call away. Stay strong; we're here for you.
No. This was not reality. He refused to accept it as such. He could not exist in a world where Redbeard did not. It simply was not possible...and yet it was so.
His long, thin hands shook terribly as he folded his mother's letter and stuffed it back in its envelope before stowing it in the breast pocket of his black school blazer. His fingers then began to pull and twist at the duvet on his bed and his silver blue eyes darted about wildly, unsure where to focus. There was a tightness in his chest that made it hard for him to breathe and his whole body trembled. He felt like he was dying, or at the very least like he was going to be sick.
Barely able to think, he grabbed his coat from the back of the door and pulled it on. He ignored the questions of the other boys as he snuck out into the night. The air was quite frigid and everything bore a thick layer of white. His brisk steps made soft crunches as he wandered his way across the grounds, heading straight southeast towards home. There were miles of country between Eton and his parent's house in rural Surrey, but he did not care. He had to go home and see the truth for himself. He would not accept that his dog, his best friend, was dead until he had seen the grave. If it was true, then the last place he wanted to be was school anyway.
For hours, he walked and walked, over hills, hedges, and walls. The cold bit deeper and deeper into his body with each passing minute. His feet, hardly protected in his black leather oxfords, were the first of his body parts to go completely numb. Everything that did not feel numb ached like he had been carrying weights. Exhaustion eventually took hold of his body and he collapsed in the middle of a farmer's field.
January 7 th , 1997
ETON COLLEGE STUDENT FOUND UNCONSCIOUS IN FIELD
Early this morning, William Holmes, a student at Eton College, was found barely alive by a farmer in the north of Surrey. The boy was promptly rushed to the nearest hospital and is currently being treated for exposure. The farmer, a Mr. Marcus Thatcher, says “I was just making myself some breakfast when I looked out the kitchen window and there was this boy just lying in the middle of my field. It seemed pretty clear that he wasn't all right when I went out to have a look, so I called 999 straight away.” The boy's parents have expressed their gratitude to Mr. Thatcher for saving their son's life and have been with William since he was deemed out of danger a short while ago.
According to Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, the cause of this shocking event was a letter their son received yesterday, his sixteenth birthday, which informed him that his dog, an Irish Setter named Redbeard, had died last week. Redbeard was given to William as an emotional support animal shortly after he began to attend primary school and was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Overly distraught by the death of his dog, William apparently attempted to walk to his parent's home all the way from Eton College in Berkshire. “He's always been an absolutely brilliant boy, but he hasn't found it easy to connect with others. Redbeard was an exception, so of course he would be very upset at losing that,” said his mother, the famed mathematician Morwena Holmes, when asked to explain her savant son's alarming behaviour. She and her husband have not said whether or not they intend to seek psychiatric help for William. Several of his school peers have stated that this is not the first time the boy has shown a complete lack of concern for consequences, some have even described him as being cold and impetuous by nature. This leads to the question of whether William's parents have been irresponsible in dealing with his condition.
Administrators at Eton have yet to comment on any aspect of the matter, but it is believed that William will not lose his place at the school, despite his impulsive actions. (Cont. page 10)