The Oxford Boy

Equally brilliant to his brother, but perhaps more mysterious. Have you ever wondered about the story behind Mycroft Holmes?


1. Potential

“Hey Sam, where’s my donut?”

“I thought I told you to cut down on sugar? It plays havoc with your health, Daley.” Samantha Cherriman chucked her briefcase onto the mound of papers lying on the floor of Room 872. It was stuffy due to the lack of windows, despite the feeble attempts of a miniature desktop fan.

“You’d better not start this again.” Horace Daley admonished. He was slumped back into a worn leather office chair with his creased shoes propped up on the desk and was sipping coffee from a large takeaway cup. “I don’t care. Anyway, why else are you here if you haven’t brought me a donut?”

Sam leant tentatively on the edge of a filing cabinet. Her painted nails tapped sharply on the metal as she breathed out a sigh of annoyance.

“What?” Horace threw his coffee cup down onto a coaster with a clatter. 

“I have more news on the Oxford boy. He’s showing serious potential, you know.” She took an apple from her pocket which she proceeded to rub on her suit jacket.

“Fruit contains sugar.”

“So you have been listening?” Sam smiled, coyly and then laughed. “It’s natural sugar, Horace. Not so bad – fruit has fibre and everything.” She took a bite out of the apple and chewed it quickly. 

Horace Daley reached out his hand expectantly and took the file on the Oxford boy. It felt a lot heavier than it had five months ago – Samantha and the team had been monitoring the boy very closely. He looked down at the latest report.

“Incredible ability to solve cryptic crosswords within minutes, even the highly challenging ones set by the team. Still hasn’t lost one game of chess in the past three years…brilliant mathematical ability…extremely observant…well spoken and intelligent...blah…blah…blah…”

“But it’s so much more than that. This week, something happened that has never occurred before under our recruitment schemes.” Sam took a small rectangular piece of white card  from her jacket pocket and cleared her throat. “We caught this conversation in the halls of residence between himself and another boy of the same age:
‘I feel like something’s not right. I can’t quite explain it, but I almost feel as if, and – this might sounds ridiculous, but, I feel as if I’m being watched. It doesn’t seem to make sense and yet I’m almost certain of it.’”

“Those were the exact words?” Horace spun his chair around to face Samantha, who nodded. “But how could he tell?”

“Well, he appears, as you know, to be renowned for his acute observance.” She took another bite of her apple, swallowed and then gingerly stepped between the papers and up to Mr Daley. “We’ve been monitoring him for the past five months and before that the intelligence team were interested right from his eighteenth birthday, when the boy noticed something crucial before even they did.”

Horace Daley flicked keenly through the file, scanning pages and gathering information. “Intriguing…and most promising.”

“I really do believe that the kid’s got something, Daley.” She smiled. “I mean, I don’t know of another human being who could solve question four across in the team’s best cryptic crossword. In thirteen seconds. And he’s only 22 years of age.”

Daley hummed and then paused for a second. “How do we know he’s not gonna snitch? He just told that random boy in the halls of residence about his apprehensions…”

“Yeah, yeah, but he can’t know everything.” She winked. “We’ll certainly drill a good few rules into him.”

Horace licked his dry lips and reached for his coffee cup. “Sammy…you’re my best advisor. D’you really think we should take him on?”

“Yup. He’s a bright spark. Different in a brilliant way and most definitely a talent we do not want falling into the wrong hands. He’s got one heck of a brain on him, Horace.” She reached for the cup. “Too much caffeine, Daley. This is your…tenth cup, am I right?”

“Eleventh.” He let go of the cup. “You’ve gotta keep awake with a job like mine.”

He looked at the photo of the Oxford boy. Long nose, pricked up ears and inquisitive eyes. It was a shame they couldn’t see his hands…you can tell so much about a person from their hands…

Sam puffed out her cheeks and rifled through the desk drawer, binning the bourbon biscuits that were slipped underneath copious piles of leaflets and other documents. Horace never was quick at making decisions, other than when it came to snacking.


“Can you just tell me your verdict please?” Sam tapped her heeled shoes on the Lino flooring. “Unlike you seem to believe, I do actually have other things to do.”

Mr Daley puffed out his cheeks and clicked his tongue onto the roof of his mouth. He flicked an invisible piece of fluff off his suit trousers. It was too warm in here to be wearing trousers…

“Horace Daley!” Miss Cherriman placed both hands on the desk and peered irritably at Horace, who appeared to be somewhat distracted.
“Impeccable skills of deduction. Mathematical ability superior to most professors. High intelligence.” His lips spread into a grin. “Actually, Samantha, I think you may be right. Monitor him for the next two months and by then I will have my certain answer.”

“And what, Mr Daley, do you suspect that will be?” She folded her arms and let her head tilt to one side. Mr Daley appeared to be smiling.

“I am almost certain that, after the boy’s graduation, we will be immediately recruiting him into the British Government.” He stood up and handed her the file. “Young Mr Mycroft Holmes really does seem to have potential.”

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