Sherlock would never admit it to John, but his Mind Palace was not actually a palace. It was a house1.
A palace was not a home in the same way a house could be called a home. Sherlock's mind was inarguably his second4 home (after No. 221B Baker St London, Greater London NW1 6XE, UK) and so "palace" was not entirely accurate. Sherlock Homes was no ordinary man – it was not a boast, merely a factual statement – however, in matters of personal presentation he was very ordinary indeed.
When Sherlock said, "I need to go to my Mind Palace." He did in fact mean "palace". Mind Palace simply sounded better than a Mind House. "Might be a few hours."
John looked up from his newspaper. There was familiar warmth in the way he rolled his eyes. "Don't forget to take your coat." John quipped, and returned his attention to the paper in his hands.
"I probably won't make it in time for supper." Sherlock said and didn't add that he fixed the heating. John didn't really understand the physical/mental aspects of the Mind Palace.
John nodded without looking up from his newspaper. "I'll head by to Jenny's, then."
Sherlock didn't know who Jenny was, so he made a mental note to pass through and see what had changed in John's Room (previously The Armoury, previously The Music Room). Sherlock closed his eyes, and began to concentra-
Sherlock opened his eyes. He was no longer in his sitting room with John, but standing on the house's doorsteps. In here it was only a house. Personal presentations did not mean much inside one's own mind. Here, the only person Sherlock had to impress was himself. The house's only function was to store Sherlock's memories, everything in it arranged to be straightforward and neat. Sherlock had no patience for metaphors.
He faced the main door. Sherlock's fingertips ghosted over his family tree, engraved into the wood. His fingers lingered on some of the names (Holmes, Violet. Holmes, [illegible]. Holmes, Mycroft. Holmes, Sherlock. Watson, John H.) before Sherlock closed his hand over the door handle and pushed his way ins-
Sherlock opened his eyes. They hurt; dry, flaking, and unaccustomed to the light. He closed them to ward off the pain. His head hurt, thumping as if he spent too much time in bed, and his muscles ached as if he hadn't used them in a while.
Eyes still closed, Sherlock observed:
1. He was not in his Mind Palace anymore (pain.)
2. He was in the hospital (lying on his back on an unfamiliar bed, the smell of antiseptic, the IV attached to his arm and, mortifyingly, he appeared to be wearing a diaper.)
3. John was there with him (all too familiar snores.)
His deductions proved correct when Sherlock's eyes finally opened. He was indeed not in his Mind Palace anymore, but lying in a hospital bed (a private hospital, from the look of it). Most importantly, John was indeed there with him.
John was fast asleep, sitting curled up on himself at Sherlock's side. His arms were crossed over his chest and head slumped so low Sherlock could only see the top of his head. The posture did not seem too comfortable, and John's shoulder would surely complain later.5
"John?" Sherlock said, and winced, because his mouth was dry and his voice rasping.
John woke with a start. He stared befuddled at Sherlock for several long moments.
"Hello," John said very softly. "About time you came back to us, Sherlock."
Sherlock mulled this over. "Is it safe to say I've missed supper then?"
John laughed softly. "I started to get worried after the first ten suppers, see."6
Sherlock tried to sit, alarmed at having lost so much time. John's hand on his shoulder stopped him. "How many days?" He demanded. A water glass sat atop the bedside table (John's) and he reached for it, drowning it gratefully before imploring, "John?"
"Thirteen days." John replied. "I didn't think much of it at first, but when I got home that morning and you still hadn't moved...." John squeezed Sherlock's shoulder. "What happened?"
Sherlock didn't know. Brows knitted, he hesitated a moment before speaking. "I think I got lost."
Shortly thereafter, Sherlock's private hospital room became a battlefield of activity. Sherlock was examined, poked and prodded by one medical expert after another. They told him nothing he did not already know, but continued to flash their torches in his eyes, made him follow their fingers' movement and asked him a variety of useless questions.
"How should I know who the Prime Minister is?" Sherlock snapped finally.
John, thankfully, never left his side. "That's fine," John assured the frowning Neurologist. "That's normal for him. Sherlock, what's the, ah," John stopped and thought for a moment, "twenty-third element on the periodic table?"
"Vanadium," Sherlock answered immediately.
"Okay. And can you tell me all the streets adjacent to Dorset Street?"
Sherlock recited, "Clay, Rodmarton, Montagu Mansions, Montagu Row, Broadstone, Kenrick, Chittern and of course, Baker Street." Sherlock sighed hugely. "Is this quite necessary?"
"Mycroft7 spares no expenses." John said with a smile. "Looks like he already knows you woke up. He just texted me, says he's on his way."
Sherlock frowned. Something in John's words did not compute, though he knew it should.
"Who's Mycroft?" Sherlock asked.
1 Semantics, some2 would argue. What made a house a palace? The Mind Palace's structure was the same as Sherlock's boyhood home, which was as near a palace as any other centuries old mansion. The only major difference was that the house in Sherlock's mind was built upwards instead of across, and only because Sherlock thought the mental exercise would do him good.
The other difference was the occupant.3
2 All the arguments in the footnotes are strictly Sherlock's. Which isn’t to say Sherlock hears voices, he simply likes to consider all point of views. For clarity's sake, the author's comments will be made in Calibri - AM
3 Irrelevant. the Other was locked inside the Panic Room.
4 It would have been his first home, and it was for many, many years. But unlike the Mind Palace, 221B had a John.
5 Observation. John would occasionally fall asleep in his armchair. (21/05/2011, 30/07/2011, 09/08/2011, 15/09/2011, 22/11/2011-23/11/2011, 03/03/2012).
7 [reference not found]
"One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Emily Dickinson – "Time and Eternity"
If Sherlock wanted to remember, for instance, the exact wording on a newspaper he read once on his way to Uni8, he'd have to search deep within the house's confines. He would still find it. If he wanted to remember what colour the dress his mother wore on her 50th birthday, all he had to do was peek into her wardrobe9.
His short term memory on the other hand, was a different matter. Sherlock did not need to search the house to recall the scent of Mrs. Hudson's favourite perfume or to remember details from last month's double homicide (/suicide) case (The Met had it all wrong). Sherlock could hold a stupendous amount of data on the surface. It was the reason he did not need to disappear into his mind that often. What Sherlock saw, he remembered, and what he heard, he retained.
And so, Sherlock should have remembered the conversation word for word. The fact that he almost could, well, that was quite worrisome.
He did not realise that at the time.
He did remember that as soon as he had spoken, John and the neurologist both became very quiet.10 It was the sort of silence that was filled with a hundred burning questions, only consumed by the curious' need to stop, rearrange, and action.
"Sherlock," John said in a joking tone. His smile was all wrong.11 "Tell me you haven't deleted -------?"
"Deleted?" The female neurologist injected.
"Why, is he important?" Sherlock asked with a raised eyebrow. "John, who is -------?"
"Your brother." John had said with that odd, worried expression.
"Brother?" Sherlock said, incredulously. "I don't have a brother."
"Excuse me," the neurologist said. "I need to ask you a few more questions. What did you mean-"
"Piss off." Sherlock snarled, loudly. She took a few steps back, alarmed. John graced her with smile no. 9.
"Would you give us a moment?" John asked.
She shook her head. "It's vital we determine the extent of Mr. Holmes' memory loss right away, Dr. Watson."
"Memory loss?" Sherlock demanded. John held up one hand, signalling: wait.
"I know, I promise I won't say anything he won't come up with on his own. Will that be all right, Doctor?" John said.
Her lips thinned, but then she nodded.
"Thank you." John said before she left the room.
"What is going on, John?" Sherlock asked. "Is this a, 'oh, Sherlock will believe anything I say right now' situation?" He had wondered if it really was. John was usually his Go To person when it came to appropriate behaviour.
"Sherlock," John said, no longer smiling. "You really can't remember your brother?"
"I'm an only child. You know that." Sherlock exclaimed. He was starting to feel the beginning of a truly magnificent headache. "Are you trying to be clever?" Sherlock asked. "Because I don't believe it's really the time to make jokes."
"I'm not trying to be clever," John had said, reassuringly, like he was trying to placate a small child.
"Well, thank God for that." Sherlock snapped.
John hadn't reacted to the insult. "Calm down." He stressed. "Look, you just got out of a coma. You're bound to be a little confused-"
"Confused?" Sherlock cried out. "I'm perfectly all right. What's wrong with you?"
John's mouth set in a thin line. He rubbed his forehead tiredly. "Let me ask you something. Remember when we first met, you told me you had an archenemy?"
"Moriarty?" Sherlock asked, brow crinkling in his confusion. "Is he somehow involved?"
"No, not Moriarty." John sighed. "Okay, how about this: do you remember when we were called to Buckingham Palace?"
"Obviously, but I don’t the see the relevancy." Sherlock said.
"Just humour me. Please, Sherlock."
"Yes, of course I remember. I was wearing my best sheet." Sherlock said with a glare.
"Okay," John said, newly christened smile no. 13 making a tentative appearance. "And can you tell me who had us brought there?"
"The Queen?" John asked. "Can you be a little more specific?"
Sherlock exhaled sharply. "Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. Dei Gratia Britanniarum Regnorumque Suorum Ceterorum Regina, Consortionis Populorum Princeps, Fidei Defensor12. We were hired to retrieve a set of incriminating photographs from Miss Irene Adler. Her Majesty wore a grey pinstripe dress and a yellow hat. She stepped on my sheet. We had tea. Would you like to know what kind?"
John was very pale. Sherlock should probably have made note of that at the time. As it was, he had been too angry to care.
He continued, "As you can see, my memory is perfectly intact. I have no idea what's got into you, but I swear, if this is just some sort of childish prank-"
"Sherlock," John said quietly.
"I will seriously begin to reconsider our friendship, Dr. Watson, because it isn't-"
"------------------------------,"13 A new voice had said.
"-very funny…" Sherlock clamped his mouth shut. He glanced at the newcomer and snapped. "What the hell do you want?"
"Oh I see. So you're… You're…" Sherlock trailed off. A terrible understanding washed over him as he realised: he could not remember the man's name.14 The same name John had told him only minutes before.
Sherlock studied the newcomer intently for a few long moments. He then closed his eyes, and pressed his fingertips to his temples. He concentrated on the man's image. He managed to hold it in his mind's eye for about a minute-
"Sherlock?" John asked. His voice was full of worry.
-And then, much to his horror, the image began to dissolve. Sherlock couldn't even recall what went away first. He opened his eyes to look at the stranger again, and discovered that the sight of him was entirely new.
"Oh," Sherlock said.
"-------," John spoke over Sherlock's head. "Can I talk to you outside for a minute?"
That was then.
Now, they were sitting outside some specialist's office. In the past month Sherlock had seen countless experts and pseudo-experts. His brain had been scanned in various fashions, methods and manners. All of the specialists agreed that he probably didn't have a brain tumour. Or a B12 deficiency. Besides that, they had no definite answers to give him, but were more than happy to direct him to the next expert in line.
"This is ridiculous," Sherlock's voice broke the tense silence. The plump armchair he was sitting on should not have been uncomfortable, yet Sherlock could not stop fidgeting. He crossed his legs to avoid tapping his foot on the floor.
"So you keep mentioning," The Taller15 Man sighed in a way that was completely unfamiliar.
Sherlock's mouth thinned. His restless gaze moved from the oil painting above The Taller Man's head ("The Falls of the Reichenbach", not the original, obviously), to the sofa The Taller Man shared with John (quite fitting, in Sherlock's opinion). Finally, Sherlock's eyes settled on the decorative plant by The Taller Man's right (potted Kentia palm plant, or 'Howea forsteriana').
"This is the last one, John." Sherlock said. "We agreed."
The Taller Man sighed again, but said nothing.
"This negative mindset isn't helping at all." John said. "Can you wait until you hear what the doctor has to say first?"
"Wait for what? Exactly what they all said?" Sherlock snapped. He rubbed his eyes. "I need to go back to the house." Sherlock muttered to himself.
"What?" John said.
"I need to go to my Mind Palace." Sherlock said, louder. "It's the only way."
"Sherlock," John said in the quiet tone that meant he was trying not shout. "You promised."
"One month." Sherlock said. "I promised one month."
"Going into your Mind Palace," John spat out the last two words like they were particularly foul, "was what started all of this in the first place."
"Exactly. I'm going absolutely stir-crazy, John. If I am to find out what happened, I need to go back. Not sit around waiting." He settled back in his seat and steepled his fingers. "Unless, of course, this is just an extremely elaborate practical joke."
John huffed in exasperation. "Sherlock, for the last time, why would I do something like that?"
"I do believe you are familiar with Occam's razor, John?" Sherlock said more coolly than he felt.
John snorted. "Fine, so I went and convinced all the people we know to play along, hired an actor, Photoshopped all those photographs… you know, piece of cake. Then, I sat around waiting for you to wake up from your coma so I could play the world's most ridiculous prank." John gritted out. "You can be an unbelievable prat sometimes."
Sherlock sighed. "When you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable-"
"-Must be the truth." The Taller Man finished for him. Sherlock deliberately did not look his way.
"It's not just that you can't remember him." John said. "It's that you keep forgetting."
"I'm still working that part out." Sherlock muttered.
A door opened, and a man in a spotless white coat emerged. "Mr. Holmes," the doctor said with a small smile, glancing up from the tablet in his hand. He held the door wide open. Both Sherlock and The Taller Man stood up.
"No," Sherlock said, holding one hand up, though still not meeting The Taller Man's eyes. "You, wait here."
"Mycroft," The Taller Man reminded him gently.
"If you say so," Sherlock said. "John? Please, will you come with me?"
John nodded, standing up. Together they walked into the doctor's office.
Sherlock forgot The Taller Man's name.
8"A FRIGATE given a £27 million refit three years ago is to be sold – for just £65,000. The Royal Navy Leander class Andromeda, which served in the Falklands and also patrolled the Gulf, will become the Chrisnia, an Indian Navy training vessel. And it means the ship, built in 1969 for £150 million, has been saved from her intended fate… being sunk as a Nato missile training target off Scotland."
-Fiona Barton (in The Mail, June 18, 1995, p.25)
9 Ultramarine and Oxford Blue. The house's interior was not an exact replicate of his childhood home, but he kept Mummy's bedroom exactly the way it was.
10John: hair still mussed from sleep, shoulders tense as if in pain (Sherlock was right in his earlier assessment), smile faltering.
Neurologist: name tag: Lora Burrows, MD. Middle aged, glasses smudged, recent Botox injection: facial expression difficult to ascertain. Scribbled something on her notepad which Sherlock couldn't quite make out (except for the letters M, R and S. Not very helpful).
11 John had twelve distinct smiles:
1. Happy. Usually seen after scuffles with armed criminals or when winding down after a long day at work.
3. Amused but trying to conceal it. Usually behind a hand or a cough.
7. Flirting. Not ranking among his best smiles, in Sherlock's opinion.
9. Peacemaking (placating a person Sherlock offended.)
10. Drugged. Something of a mix between the Happy and the Flirting/Creepy smile. Sherlock had only seen this one a few times, and despite what John said, he was not accountable for those occasions.
11. Trying to act cross (but failing).
Smile no. 13 was entirely new. Sherlock didn't like it.
12 "By the Grace of God of Her British and other Realms Queen, Head of the Consortium of Peoples, Defender of the Faith." – Latin. Sherlock can't speak it, but he can recite it beautifully –AM.
14 Something that started with an M. (Michael, Myles, Mylnburne, Mylnric, Mynogan, Mylo, Micah, Milford, Millman, Miloslaw, Milward, Meinard, Meinfried, Meyer, Miraj…?)
15 He was three centimetres taller than Sherlock. For some reason, that was the only fact Sherlock could retain.
“A shadow not of a bird, not of a cloud, draws a dark stroke over the hills, the mind. And another, another. Our fears keep pace with us.”
The faint scent of lemons greeted Sherlock at the entrance to his flat. He paused at the doorway, giving the sitting room and kitchen a thorough once–over. The general clutter had been left mostly undisturbed, but it was fairly obvious that a certain someone had been in.
Sherlock approached the coffee table, and swiped a finger across the smooth surface. There was not a speck of dust to be seen.
Leave it to Mrs. Hudson to appoint herself as their (double negative, not–not) housekeeper in the wake of Sherlock's illness.16 When Sherlock had returned from his impromptu hospitalisation, he came home to a disinfected flat, and no less than sixteen binned experiments.17
Mrs. Hudson continued to operate under the misguided belief that a clean house would aid in his "recovery", and had persisted in her mission despite their (admittedly feeble) protests.
221B had never been so well taken care of. It was a stark contrast to the disarray18 in Sherlock's other home. The one he was currently barred from entering; thanks to the lovely deal he had struck with John some weeks ago.19
All houses require maintenance. Sherlock could only begin to guess at the mess that was accumulating in his head. Day by day, he regretted giving in to John and not going in immediately to investigate his own, well, state of mind.
Day by day, Sherlock's dread only grew. He needed to keep himself distant, look at the problem from a scientific point of view, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage. He had no idea, absolutely no idea what could have caused this chronic pinpointed amnesia. His imagination wasn't helping any, either: some days he woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, convinced that he could hear walls crumbling. What if he got out?
Sudden voices drew Sherlock’s attention to the stairway. One male, one female; they always forgot how easily sounds carried up the stairs, and how acute Sherlock's hearing was. He uncoiled his scarf casually, one ear tilted toward the doorway.
“You boys are back so soon,” Mrs. Hudson said in concern. Her voice was ever–so–slightly muffled. Sherlock could imagine her posture: one curled hand held against her mouth, the other hugging herself for comfort. She would stand slightly hunched, shoulders drawn together. A contrast to John's rigid military posture.
“How did it go?" she asked, though by the look of John's face, she probably already knew the answer.
“It went,” John sighed. He was trying to hold back his anger in Mrs. Hudson’s presence. Sherlock imagined John's tentative smile (number 9).
Mrs. Hudson wasn’t born yesterday. “Oh no,” she scoffed softly. “He didn’t... not again?” She was near tears, though her voice hadn't betrayed her yet. There was nothing Sherlock could do to comfort her, so he withdrew his attention instead, attempting to give her relative privacy. Mrs. Hudson cried often these days.
Sherlock shrugged out of his coat, and waited for the inevitable stomping footsteps to announce John's arrival. It wasn't long before the door was slammed shut with enough force to throw the skull painting off–balance. Good, predictable John Watson.
“Still upset?” Sherlock asked in a bored tone. He approached the painting, and straightened it back into place with a nudge.
“Yep,” John said, without looking at Sherlock. He stood by the window, gazing out at the street without actually seeing it. His shoulders were tense.
It was a method John had often employed when he was trying to cool off before a confrontation. It didn't seem to work most of the time, but to be fair Sherlock did have that effect on people.20
“Pity,” Sherlock shrugged. He flopped, gracefully, into his armchair. He fidgeted for a moment, awkwardly struggling to find a comfortable sitting position. The armchair didn't seem to fit him so well anymore. He'd have to check later if Mrs. Hudson had been meddling with the furniture as well.
John remained silent in his conviction, standing immobile before the window. Sherlock glanced down at his watch, intending to time, exactly, how long John would be able to keep it up.
Immediately, Sherlock's face broke into a scowl.
It was one thirty in the afternoon. Of course it was. The hour was always one thirty whenever Sherlock so much as glanced at a clock these days. Time appeared to be stalking him. 21
“Five minutes,” John said, breaking the silence. He was still resolutely not looking at Sherlock. "You couldn't spare five sodding minutes?"
"Didn't we already have this discussion in the cab?" Sherlock sighed. "That doctor was only interested in my case for his next book. It was obvious he hadn't the faintest clue as to what he was doing."
"That wasn't the way I heard it," John said, shaking his head.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Then you haven't been listening."
John turned back to look at Sherlock. He opened his mouth to speak (bite) but then an odd expression came over his face. 25
Sherlock raised a single eyebrow. "What is it?"
"You're just anxious to disappear inside your own head again," John stated calmly. His earlier tension hadn't evaporated, but he didn't look angry anymore.
He was wrong, but to be fair, Sherlock had purposefully exuded that impression. It was preferable to discussing his feelings openly. For that Sherlock had neither the desire nor the patience.
If Sherlock wanted to be honest with John, he would have admitted that he wasn't exactly anxious to go back.
If Sherlock wanted to be honest with himself, he would have admitted that he was extremely anxious about going back. Sherlock had always been able to trust his own memory. His mind made him unique, the person that he was. Having it fail him… what good was a hard–drive that could no longer sustain data?
Sherlock did not deign to be honest, however. It was so much easier to blame his reluctance on John, and of the tentative agreement they'd come to previously.
"I did try," Sherlock replied. "I think it's fair to say by now that the conventional methods are not providing satisfactory results. Or any results for that matter, outside of driving me absolutely mad in the process–"
"You call that trying?" John said. "What's the point of seeking help if you're not willing to take it? That last doctor, Mycroft26 had him flown in from God knows where, and you took off before he even said two words to you. Is that trying, Sherlock? Really?"
Sherlock tried to steeple his hands, but the familiar gesture felt wrong somehow. He dropped his hands with a sigh.
"Why are you so upset?" Sherlock asked. "Aside from the single anomaly, there's nothing wrong with me."
John set his mouth in a thin, grim line. Without breaking eye contact, he strode forward, coming to tower over the seated Sherlock. He said nothing, remaining standing too close for comfort, looking at Sherlock expectedly.
"What are you doing?" Sherlock asked, irritated.
John's raised his eyebrows. He gave Sherlock a meaningful look before he said "You're in my seat."
Thrown off balance for a moment, Sherlock could only blink. The sudden understanding felt like a punch to the stomach; John was right. The leather armchair he usually occupied was right in front of him, and he hadn't even noticed.
Sherlock jumped to his feet. John took a step back, narrowly preventing their collision. He looked at Sherlock sombrely, concern written all over his face.
"All right?" John murmured.
Sherlock offered no reply. He walked toward the mirror, examining his partially obscured reflection. The mirror was covered in post–it notes of Sherlock and John's making, as well as all sorts of data, from scans of Sherlock's brain, to the latest piece of groundbreaking research on the topic of memory loss.
There was a notebook on the mantle. It had been left open, and Sherlock was greeted by the sight of his own penmanship. He had written down a few memories he assumed were affected, and then compared his notes with The Taller Man. Sherlock could not recall what had been said during those meetings, but he could read them now; The Taller Man's handwriting was eerily similar to Sherlock's own. He had added his own comments in the margins, but the words were as new to Sherlock now as they had been back then.
Sherlock looked up at his incomplete reflection. If he tilted his head just so, his right eye would be hidden, as well as his mouth and jaw. John's reflection, on the other hand, was perfectly intact. He stood at a distance, directly in front of an empty space in the jigsaw where a piece of paper had fallen off.
Sherlock met John's eyes in the mirror. Quietly, he admitted "I think my mind is unravelling."
"You don't know what you might lose if you do go back," John said softly.
"What else would you have me do?" Sherlock asked. His voice was calm, controlled. It was just too bad that he hadn't been paying much attention to his hands.
The skull27 crashed to the floor. Sherlock hadn't meant to throw it off the mantle, but by the time he had realised what he was doing, it was already too late. Bits of bone turned to dust, made brittle by old age. The skull's jaw had dislocated, and Sherlock looked down to see it grinning up at him at an impossible angle.
"I can't afford to lose anymore time," Sherlock murmured softly. He pressed his hands to his face, leaning back against the mantle. One month, that was the length of time they'd agreed to wait. As it turned out, it was exactly the right amount of time for Sherlock's frustration to overgrow his
"Please, leave," Sherlock said, turning to his armchair. He sat down with a sigh, mind already made up.
John sat down in front of him, and crossed his arms. "No."
Sherlock frowned. "I'm doing this with or without your approval, John."
John nodded. "And I'll be right here to watch over you."
"That won't make any difference at all," Sherlock pointed out.
"I know," John said.
Sherlock graced him with the hint of a smile. With one final, long exhale, he sat back. Finally comfortable, he shifted his attention inwards, five senses becoming nothing but background noise as he concentrated on the image of the all too familiar hou–
16 It was what they'd been calling it. Not to his face of course, though it was heavily implied. Sherlock mostly overheard the word uttered in hushed stairway conversations and by the occasional slip of the tongue.
17 Sherlock had been livid. Some of them had been salvageable, in spite of his unexpected absence.
"Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock had said in despair. "What did you do with my fungi study? The one I kept in the white mug?"
"White mug?" Mrs. Hudson had replied, not the slightest bit abashed.
"Yes! White mug, with the red and green insignia. What did you do with it?"
She pulled a disgusted face. "Had to throw it away, didn't I? Good heavens, the smell!" she said with a shudder.
John interrupted. "Hang on, that was my mug. You were growing fungus in it?"
"I was going to wash it," Sherlock said, peevishly.
"Was it poisonous?"
"I was going to wash it!"
He hadn't planned on washing it.
18 Take notice, in this instance, of the word "disarray". There are certain laws that exist within Sherlock's mind, upheld for over three decades. Sherlock does not forget, he deletes. He does not lose, he misplaces. - AM
"Come again?" John had quietly raged. "You want to do what, exactly?"
Sherlock huffed in annoyance. "You heard me perfectly, John Watson."
"You're–" John started to say. His voice rose an octave, and he had to take a moment to calm himself. When he spoke again his voice was noticeably calmer, but only just.
"Who's to say you'll wake up next time, hmm?" John asked.
"Who's to say I won't? There's no guarantee that–"
"Sherlock! You don't even know what you did. What if next time, you won't be able to remember anything at all? You could spend the rest of your life drooling in a wheelchair, did you think about that?"
"All right, no need to be so dramatic," Sherlock snapped, but the doubt had been planted.
The conversation had eclipsed into a rather long and tiresome discussion after that. Eventually, they reached an agreement.
20 In spite of that, John still had the highest success rate of anyone Sherlock had ever met. Sherlock supposed that it had to do with John's natural ability to stabilise his nerves under stress.
(i) Sherlock wasn't observing the time with more or less frequency than Before.23 At first, the odds of observing the exact same hour, every day, for a month, might have seem high. Determining the exact probability with any segment of accuracy would have been a tedious task, as he would have to factor numerous variables he had neither the time nor the patience to measure. It was however, safe to say that the odds weren't as high as they appeared to be.
An average person might spend their days chasing around the clock, whereas Sherlock chose to make his own schedule. And yet, he also lived in the modern age. There was no escaping the time; whether it was displayed on the bottom corner of his computer screen, announced by the voice on the radio, or spotted on the wrist of a passer–by; Sherlock didn't just see, he noticed.
Therefore, it could be said that Sherlock Holmes was far more mindful of the passage of time, than any average person might have been.
(ii) Sherlock's mind was exceptionally adept at noticing patterns. Details and repetitions were often the cornerstones of success in his line of work. However, not all patterns were significant. There was nothing at all odd about noticing the same hour every day, despite of what his mind tried to signal.
(iii) Sherlock had woken up from his coma at approximately 01:30 in the afternoon. More accurately, it was the hour which was listed on his medical record. It was an important enough detail to stand out, but unimportant enough that he knew whatever sense of familiarity his mind was forcing on him was, ultimately, pointless.
22 The Baader–Meinhof Phenomenon occurs whenever a person comes across a word (or a phrase, a fact, a number, a date, etc) and then proceeds to encounter it again and again within a relatively short time–span. – AM
As much as Sherlock ached to define The Event, it would be foolish of him to theorise before he knew more about it. He would return to make a final judgement later.
25 While Sherlock could easily identify each of John's smiles, reading John's face was trickier whenever John wasn't smiling.
26 Mycroft was the name of The Taller Man, Sherlock gathered. He didn't bother trying too hard to hold on to the name anymore, and sure enough, a full minute later he could no longer recall it.
27 It was unfortunate. The skull had been a gift from his late father. Sherlock was pretty sure.