This story was conceived about a year ago now, when I decided I wanted to write a Sherlock Holmes story with a new twist: making it about a girl — but not just any gir. Nancy Springer had written the Enola Holmes series about Sherlock and Mycroft’s little sister (born “by mistake” quite a few years after they were), which was a pretty daring move in my opinion.
And of course, there are the countless stories about Sherlock’s estranged daughter(s) with unknown women (or the woman). I don’t know if those are Mary Sues or not, but I’ve seen a lot of them, and they’re actually fairly enjoyable to read.
But to my knowledge, nobody had actually written a story where Sherlock was a girl.
When I was young, my grandparents of blessed memory owned a movie called Without a Clue, which explored the possibility of Watson being the true genius behind the crime-solving duo and Sherlock being merely a face in a most comedic fashion. Although I am a fan of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, I’ll admit that this was actually the first SH-related movie I’d ever seen. I suppose watching that movie caused some Sherlockally-heretical notions to seep into my subconscious and inspire me to write a most absurd plotline: What if Sherlock Holmes were a girl, and the whole man in the deerstalker with the pipe and cocaine addiction was merely a face so that people might take her prowess seriously?
A Case of Hypnosis
(by Allison Rose)
It was during my time at the prestigious Edgar and Ella Brompton Academy for Young Ladies that Holmes and I were first acquainted. I’d recently been appointed as the school’s head physician, as the previous fellow had decided not long before to further his medical career elsewhere. Having returned from the battlefield in India with a bullet firmly lodged in my leg, I accepted the position, considering that it would be less taxing on my injuries than that of an army doctor.
The very first time we’d met, it had been in the advent of a misplaced pocket watch. My pocket watch, to be precise. I’d taken a walk out of doors for a breath of fresh air in hopes of clearing my head after having attempted to relieve a hysterical girl of an alleged toothache. (I may be a physician, but it did not require a dentist to conclude that the young lady was attempting to, as they might say today, cut class.)
Unfortunately, the fresh air I desired, however, wasn’t meant to be. It was raining, and the distinct smell of the nearby horse stables wafted through the humid, moist air. When the skies began to send a torrential storm down upon my bare head, I decided to call it quits and return to my office. It was at that very moment that I reached for my timepiece only to find that it was gone.
Back out into the pouring rain I ran, hoping to retrace my steps and find my timepiece lying haphazardly on the cobblestone. But my efforts were in futility. I had been so absorbed in my thoughts, any common prankster could have dipped their sneaky hand into my pocket and I would not have noticed!
Over the course of the day, I disinfected several young ladies’ fingers where they’d pierced themselves doing needlepoint work, but I found myself time and time again reaching for an object that wasn’t there. The watch had been my father’s; I would just have to accept that it was gone, and that I’d have to purchase a new one soon.
Some hours later, I sat by the window in a rare moment of solitude. The rain was still coming down hard, and most of the students were dining on supper.
The door opened, and there stood a young girl I had not seen before. She was dressed in accordance to school protocol, so she was most definitely a student here. (She later informed me that she was the only student who didn’t feign illness to leave class, which was why I rarely saw her prior to our first meeting.)
And dangling from the chain she held in her slender, white fingers was a pocket watch. My pocket watch, to be precise. Like her sleeve, it was dripping rainwater onto the polished wooden floor.
“Doctor Watson,” she announced confidently, shaking damp rivulets of moisture from her raven-black hair, “I believe this is yours!”
“Where did you find it?” said I in utter amazement, accepting the find and tucking it, still damp, into my pocket where it belonged.
“Wiggins, that new stable boy,” the girl replied, rolling her eyes at the very notion. “He had been showing off his new prize all afternoon. One has a highly dynamic view of the grounds from Professor Moriarty’s laboratory,” she added with a slight chuckle.
“But how did he do it?” I insisted. “Surely I would have seen him.”
“Do not underestimate that urchin,” she retorted dryly. “He’s got more street smarts than an entire gang of thieves.” (She later revealed to me that she’d lost plenty of little items to Wiggins herself prior to our meeting.)
“Tell me, Doctor,” she continued. “What did you smell when you went out for your breath of fresh air?”
How did she know this? I thought to myself in wonder, momentarily forgetting her remark about Moriarty’s laboratory. “I smelled the humid air, and, well, the stables. At one point, it was particularly strong.”
“And it was at this point that Wiggins crept by while pushing a wheelbarrow, and slipped his fingers into your pocket, thus stealing your timepiece. Even if I hadn’t witnessed this happening, it’s really quite a simple conclusion, once you think about it. And I got the boy to admit his petty misdeed when I confronted him about it not a quarter of an hour ago.”
“You amaze me,” was all I could manage to articulate. “Miss…?”
“Holmes,” she replied, extending her hand in an almost gentleman-like fashion which, obligingly, I shook. “Sheryl Locke Holmes.”
Although neither of us knew at the time, that brief introduction following the unraveling of a small mystery, was just the beginning of not one, but a series of great adventures. Adventures of which I would one day become the devoted chronicler.
So began our first one.
I’d like to also note that the name “Sheryl Locke Holmes” has been used before, prior to the creation of this story, by author C.L. Exline, who wrote the Sheryl Locke Holmes mystery series about Sherlock’s descendant living in the United States and solving 21st century crimes. This only came to my knowledge afterwards, when it was really too late for me to come up with a better name, etc.
Great minds think alike, no? It turns out we’d both come up with that name for our characters independently of each other, just like two completely unrelated dudes both conceived Calculus (and I resent them for it to this day).
When I contacted Ms. Exline regarding this most curious issue, she was so sweet and understanding, and after seeking permission from her publisher, she said that it was perfectly fine that we continue to use this name independently of each other, since our storylines are sufficiently different.
That said, I’d like to give a little shout-out to Ms. Exline! ^_^