Mycroft Mysteries, Case #4, Part 3


When the three … Tally had to come up with a word for it. ‘Gang’ worked for Sparrow and Eris, but it was a charming or friendly word and Jude wasn’t much of either. When the other three left, Ms Mycroft lapsed into a silence that she was clearly comfortable with, but Tally wasn’t. Sip of tea, bite of pastry, turn the page of the paper.

Tally didn’t like reading papers manually. It was hard to search them for text, hard to cross-reference them easily. It might have been a conditional thing, or maybe it was just awkwardness. Just something about static text on a page that Tally couldn’t move with an unconscious gesture felt weird. It didn’t help that most of the people Tally knew who actively used newspapers these days were doing so out of some sense of self-importance.


Ms Mycroft didn’t quite exude that air. It seemed almost totemic. She was never surprised or impressed as she looked at the pages before her; never actively or consciously perturbed by the information before her. Tally wondered if it was because she anticipated everything with that disturbing mind of hers, or if she had some parlour trick to it – something that just deflated the whole idea of it being impressive. Maybe she delivered the paper early, or she read the stories on the web.

It’s what Tally would do, if they wanted to make people at breakfast look impressed.

On the other hand, Tally had their tablet, and phone, on the table. They had quite a nice array of breakfast food, too, between both of them. No talking though… normally that’d be relaxing to Tally, but they kept waiting for the shoe to drop, for the next thing to happen.

Ms Mycroft stood up from the table abruptly, folded newspaper dropped onto a bin by the table – one of the recycling spots that Jude cleaned up daily. It was kind of strange – for such a fastidious person, Ms Mycroft seemed to regard the cleanliness of her surroundings no more than a snake regarded its shed skin. Perhaps it was just another way she could push Jude around, something she clearly liked doing. Without a word, she simply walked off, leaving Tally confused.

“So uh, Ms Mycroft?” Tally called at her back.

“Yes, Tally?” she responded, without turning her head, or slowing her steps. She moved around a corner.

Well that was rude. Tally scuttled up onto their feet and trotted afterwards, following.

“What do we do while we wait for the others to…?”

“To what?”

“Well, I mean,” Tally murmured, stepping over a discarded housecoat. “I’m wondering if we should be using this time to plan ahead.”

“I find Sparrow’s driving is consistent enough that I don’t need to do much of that.”

“Well, I mean,” Tally murmured, looking up from their tablet to glance back down the hall, almost tripping on a skirt. “I don’t know that much about the Thelion businesses, or the estate or—”

“Do you have to?”

“I sort of assumed I would, to work out…” Tally mumbled, opening a browser window on the tablet and flipped through the first few hits. A name like that, Google tried to present all sorts of alternatives. Stockings vhnnnd under their feet as they walked, holding tab in hand.

“You really don’t look at things the way I do, Tally.” Ms Mycroft said, on the other side of the tablet. “For me, this is an exercise in processing the data that I have access to. And that is the reason why I look so bored at the breakfast table.”

“Wait what-“ Tally stood up straight, blinking in surprise and alarm.

Then the realised Ms Mycroft was wearing a single-piece plain white swimsuit. They had followed her all the way from the dining room, upstairs, across one of the halls, through a changeroom, and were standing by the upstairs pool. Ms Mycroft stood before them, looking down her nose subtly, and Tally found no room in their mouth for words.

“It’s a matter of deduction. This isn’t solving a puzzle, this is just the slow, steady process of turning data into information into facts.” She said, stepping forwards, folding one arm across her chest and putting a fingertip on Tally’s nose, ignoring their muteness. “Be patient and dispassionate with the information you receive, and shake it slowly, so the patterns emerge.”

“… You … uh,” Tally managed, “You tend to make deductions in instants.”

“I shake slowly very quickly.” She said, turning on her heel and stepping to the edge of the pool. “I’ll be having some exercise. And don’t bring up time after eating, thank you. There are some swimwears of sorts in the changing room if you’d like to join me.”

Tally slowly, slowly, raised the tablet up between them and Ms Mycroft, and very, very quietly squeaked. Somewhere on the other wild side of that tablet, there was a splash, and Tally wondered about when the data would come from … the other three.

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