A Chance Meeting With a Tall, Dark Stranger
“You there! Girl!” A well-dressed stranger yelled down the street, the bottom of his long overcoat flapping behind him as he ran. I discreetly looked around, not wanting to be caught putting my nose into someone else’s business, looking for the girl he was yelling at. Then I realized with a start, when I didn’t see any other women nearby, that he was talking to me!
By that time he had reached me, slightly out of breath, his dark hair tousled and sticking up in every direction. “What is the date of today?” He asked me seriously.
“Are you okay?” I questioned slowly, looking at him oddly. It wasn’t every day that strange men sprinted down the street to ask you the date. The thought crossed my mind that he might be on drugs.
“I’m clean, I swear. No drugs, no alcohol.” He told me, as if reading my thoughts. “This is important! What is the date of today?”
“November 28th,” I answered, my expression changing to one of incredulity. Who was this man? And how had he known exactly what I was thinking?
“The year! What’s the year?” He asked impatiently, growing agitated.
I looked up at him in surprise, but there was no sign of any jest in his eyes. His expression was deadly serious. “It’s 2012.” I said, beginning to wonder if this weren’t all an elaborate prank being pulled on me.
When he heard my answer, his face broke out into a wide grin, an excited light dancing in his eyes. “Oh, this is brilliant!” He exclaimed, trying to contain his glee.
“Would you please explain to me what’s going on?” I asked flatly. “How did you know what I was thinking?”
“Educated guess,” he replied, reigning in his excitement to explain. “You are obviously an intelligent young woman, so of course you would be cautious about a stranger approaching you as I did. Your expression told me that you didn’t trust me, that you were on guard, and the slight disgust that crossed your face after I asked what the date of today was told me that you labeled me as some type of low-life. So that, together with the oddity of my question, led me to believe that you thought I was drunk or doing drugs.”
I narrowed my eyes, suddenly worried about what I had unknowingly gotten myself into. “And why were you asking such an odd question in the first place?” I asked brashly.
“That is simple.” He told me, grinning again. “You have the honor of being the first person to ever talk to a time traveler!”
Now I knew someone was playing a joke. “Who put you up to this? Was it Rob? Carley? Alyssa?”
His eyebrows furrowed, his forehead creasing, and he frowned. “This isn’t a joke,” he declared.
“You aren’t a time traveler,” I argued, planting my hands solidly on my hips. “This is ridiculous!”
He sighed, turning away as he ran an anxious hand through his hair in exasperation. When he turned back around he had a vaguely fake smile plastered onto his face. “Let’s try this again,” he said, extending his hand to shake mine. “I’m Sherlock Holmes, from the year 18—“
“Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes?” I exclaimed in astonishment, interrupting him before he could finish. “Now I know you have to be joking.”
“Who’s Arthur Conan Doyle?” He questioned sharply, narrowing his eyes in obvious displeasure, though I couldn’t tell whether it was over his lack of knowledge or the way I had made it sound like someone owned him.
“He’s a famous author,” I explained, rolling my eyes. “He created the Sherlock Holmes novels starring the infamous detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Doctor John Watson. Like you didn’t already know that.”
“As strange as it may seem, I didn’t,” he replied. “I do indeed know Watson, but I was under the impression that it was he, not this Doyle, who wrote down the details of my cases.”
“But you aren’t real!” I exclaimed. “You’re a fictional character!”
“You shook my hand, you know for a fact that I am flesh and blood,” he pointed out. “And when you’ve ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable…”
“Must be the truth,” I finished for him. “I know, I’ve read that before. You still haven’t proved that you aren’t some actor one of my friends hired to pull a practical joke on me.”
He—I still refused to think of him as Sherlock Holmes—stood there for a few seconds, seemingly thinking hard. After a brief moment his eyes brightened. “You said you knew that I was a detective, correct?”
“I said I knew that Sherlock Holmes was a detective,” I replied, “but yes, I did.”
“Then the only way to prove I am not a fake is to give you an example of my skill,” he said decisively. He stared hard at me, his eyes flicking back and forth as he studied me intently.
“I do have things I need to be doing.” I told him.
“I told you before that you are intelligent,” He began slowly, “I will further say that you are well-read as well, reading a range of books, both classical and those from this time. As you are intelligent, I would imagine that you keep up with modern technology, possessing proficiency in most, if not all of the technology you come in contact with. However, you are more of a traditional person, having skills in things like dancing and sewing that other’s your age might not. You are a perfectionist, but your finger nails are bitten raggedly, so I would assume that you bite your nails when you are anxious.”
I held up a hand, stopping him there. “None of that’s conclusive. Any of my friends could have fed you all of that information.”
“So you admit that it is all true?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.
“All of that’s true,” I admitted finally.
“And yet you still don’t believe me,” he sighed. “There isn’t anything I can say to prove my identity, is there?”
“I highly doubt there is anything you could say that I would accept as proof,” I answered, “And any piece of paper you ‘just happened’ to have on you that proved you were the Sherlock Holmes could easily have been faked.”
“But, I can prove that I am a time traveler!” He exclaimed suddenly, grabbing my arm and producing a small deceive from inside his coat. “Hold onto me!”
I blinked once and found myself staring not at the familiar street I had been standing on not moments before, but instead standing outside of 221 Baker Street, in what could only be Victorian London. “But—“ I stuttered out, spinning all the way around as I tried to grasp the impossibility of what had happened. “But we’re in London! I live in America!”
“Oh, yes,” he—Sherlock Holmes—said with a chuckle, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, “I worked that into my device so that I wouldn’t accidently end up stuck in the middle of two walls. I had thought I had set it for somewhere uninhabited, but my knowledge of the future is only experimental at best.”
“Sherlock, what are you doing?” Doctor Watson asked disparagingly as he walked out of the door and down the steps of 221b Baker Street. “Who’s this?”
“I’m Christine Dunn,” I said, introducing myself shyly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Doctor Watson. I’ve read so much about you.”
“The pleasure is all mine,” he told me graciously, taking my outstretched hand and giving it a shake, even if it was a bit hesitantly, “It’s not often I get to meet an American.” Watson turned to Sherlock looking apologetic. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything, but Holmes, the Royal Family is sending us a car. They have a case they want you to take care of.”
Sherlock groaned. “Don’t they know I am in the middle of research?” He grumbled in frustration. “The Royal’s always have such terrible timing.”
“I was assured it was urgent.” Watson told him.
“It’s always urgent.” Sherlock responded with a sigh. “Fine. Let me take this lovely young woman home and then I’ll deal with whatever case they need me to solve. Ms. Dunn, if you’ll take my hand again.” He said, holding out his hand toward me.
I took it and after another blink I was standing back on the street as before. “You’re really Sherlock Holmes.” I breathed slowly, looking up incredulously at him.
“I am indeed.” Sherlock replied with a smile. “I am sorry to have to leave you so quickly, but I have a case to solve!”
I opened my mouth to ask him another question, but he disappeared right in front of my eyes.
“No one is ever going to believe this.” I said to myself, shaking my head. I barely believed it all myself!