Stranger than Fiction
by Jordanna (librarie at jordanna.net)
Title: Stranger Than Fiction
Author: Jordanna Morgan (librarie at jordanna.net)
Archive Rights: SH22 Fan Page; others please request the author’s consent.
Disclaimer: Not mine. DIC’s.
Summary: Holmes recalls another singular individual of the
Notes: This little vignette is dedicated to my
friends in the "Secret Adventures of Jules Verne" fandom.
Stranger Than Fiction
My friend Sherlock Holmes speaks little of the past. Indeed,
although he clearly likes to keep an atmosphere of his native
century within his own life, his mind is always firmly rooted in
the complexities of the present. Thus, when he does bestir
himself to bring up, in his own offhanded way, some item of
historical interest, it never fails to be fascinating.
It was a pleasant autumn evening in 2104, and as was often the
case, Holmes and I were spending it in the company of the Baker
Street Irregulars. For some hours after tea, our young friends
sprawled across the rug with their books and papers as I helped
them with their homework. Holmes meanwhile sat curled up in his
armchair, dreamy-eyed and absorbed in his music as he improvised
one cheery air after another. Of late he had been in the midst of
one of those small but peculiar private inquiries which he often
found so congenial to his tastes, and he was therefore in
Wiggins, Deidre and Tennyson were just gathering their books
when there came a knock upon our door, and at a crisp summons
from Holmes, Inspector Lestrade stepped into the sitting room.
"I’m sorry, Holmes, I didn’t know you had company," Lestrade
said upon seeing the Irregulars. "I wanted to talk to you about
the Mitchell case, but I can come back."
Wiggins stood up, shouldering his bookbag. "Hey, it’s cool. We
were just leaving anyway. We’ve got a lot of reading to do for some
dumb ol’ book report."
"What is the book?" I asked in curiosity.
"Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne." Wiggins shook
his head. "Strange old story, if you ask me. Nowadays it’s pretty
hard to imagine having to take that long to go around the world."
Holmes chuckled and sat up straight in his chair. "Ah, but that
was the reality of my day, Wiggins," he said good-humoredly. "I
was rather near your age when Mister Phileas Fogg went on that
mad dash round the globe. I remember that I followed the news of
it with some interest -- mainly, I admit, because the man was
accused of absconding with stolen funds. I studied the theft and
determined his innocence long before the real culprit was
captured. You see I had a turn for criminology, even then."
Deidre goggled at Holmes. "But I thought that book was all just
a piece of fiction!"
"As I recall, you once thought the same of me." Holmes smiled
enigmatically and steepled his fingers. "No, Phileas Fogg was
quite real. Before those ‘Eighty Days’ and his subsequent
marriage made a wreck of the mechanically precise order of his
life, I daresay he was the one man in London who was even more
singular in his habits than myself. The fact is that many years
later, he lent his genius for timetables to help solve one of my
Tennyson chirped eagerly at his keyboard, and his remark was
echoed by Deidre. "Yeah, tell us the story!"
"Read the book first," said Holmes with a laugh. "Monsieur
Verne was just as guilty as John Watson when it came to mangling
stories for the sake of romance, but I shouldn’t like to color
your views before your assignments are written. If your grades on
the report are good, I promise to tell you all about my
experience with Phileas Fogg -- but now perhaps I’d best see to the
problem Inspector Lestrade is so patiently waiting to tell me.
Good evening, Irregulars."
Once the Irregulars had paraded noisily out of the room and
could be heard clamoring down the stairs, Lestrade shut the door
behind them, then turned to Holmes with a look both amused and
reproachful. "You really had them going."
"Did I?" Holmes asked innocently.
"With all that stuff about Phileas Fogg being real. I’ve read
Jules Verne. He had quite an imagination."
"He certainly had some perceptive qualities -- not unlike my own
in some respects, although his particular talent lay in drawing
inferences about the distant future. Around the World in Eighty
Days was no product of his unique vision, however." Holmes drew
his knees up to his chest with a smile of secret amusement. "You
would be astonished, my dear Lestrade, to know how many
significant individuals of my day are now presumed to be
fictional...or vice versa, for that matter."
Wide-eyed, Lestrade drew up the stool from the desk and sat
facing Holmes. "You’re serious, aren’t you?"
"Phileas Fogg was a member of the Diogenes Club in his later
years, after his interests had broadened. His famous biographer
came round with him on occasion, and my brother Mycroft once had
the happy chance to introduce me to them both. Verne was rather
interesting, for the reason I described, but Fogg was truly
impressive: he perceived, much as I do, that with sufficient
information all possibilities might be anticipated. ‘The
unforeseen does not exist’ was his credo, and I must confess I
admired that philosophy. Though his severe punctiliousness was
quite the opposite to myself, I found his clarity of thought to
be exceptional. In fact..." Holmes paused, almost a hesitation. "I
never inquired into his affairs, but I suspect Brother Mycroft
may have made more official use of Fogg’s calculating mind now
In my many months at Holmes’ side, this occasion was the first
time I had ever heard him make mention of his brother, whom I
knew of only through the writings of the original Watson. The
references were quick and curiously impersonal, and I wondered
briefly if my friend ever missed his relative.
"You say Fogg assisted in one of your cases," I said with a
frown, "but there is no mention of this in any of my predecessor’s
journals. Why is that?"
"The case was left unrecorded at Fogg’s own request. After
Monsieur Verne had immortalized those Eighty Days, I suspect he’d
had quite enough publicity." Holmes chuckled. "We had occasion
more than once to compare notes about the flaws of our
biographers -- in his case Verne, and in my case...your
‘predecessor’, of course."
Lestrade gave an impatient shrug. "So what’s the story?"
Holmes smiled crookedly. "Come round on the day the Irregulars
present their grades to me, Lestrade, and I’ve no doubt you shall
hear it. I find that our young friends can be highly motivated in
their studies by the promise of a story which was never committed
"Sneaky," Lestrade declared, but with an amused smile on her
"Effective!" Holmes replied simply, and clasped his hands.
"Now, what was this matter of the Mitchell case you wanted to
Editor's Note: Jules Verne's works used to belong to him, but
now they're in the public domain. Mwahahahaha!
Back to the Fanfic index