Albert and Jarvis — a collaborative tale.

Ten year old Alexander Grahamson was chatting with his great uncle Albert in the garden of the family home. Albert lived in an old shepherd’s hut at the bottom of the grounds; in an area that can’t be seen from the house, an area where Alexander and his parents seldom venture.

“But Unkie, why won’t you come and live in the house with us?” Alex asked his elderly relative.

“I like my hut, lad,” Albert replied, “I’ve got it exactly how I want it; all my bits and pieces and all my memories are in there – besides, your Mum and Dad don’t need a troublesome old man under their feet all the time, do they?”

Alex looked at the old man with some confusion.

“Mum says you really should come in. She says you’re too old to look after yourself properly. She says,” Alex paused, looked pensively at his great uncle then continued, “what’s senile, Unkie?”

Walking with the boy towards his shepherd’s hut, Albert said, “Senile? It’s what happens to some old people, lad. They forget things. Sometimes, they can’t even remember how to look after themselves. Not this old man, though, and you can tell your mother that as soon as you like.”

The pair rounded the corner and passed behind the tall, dense leylandii that effectively hid the hut from the rest of the property.

“Why don’t you come in?” Albert offered, opening the door to his hut.

“I’ve never been allowed inside before,” Alex said, “Mum says I should keep away; that it’s not nice in there. Are you sure it’s alright?”

“Course it is, lad. I wouldn’t have asked you in if it wasn’t, would I, now?” he turned a conspiratorial eye to Alex and said, “And let me tell you a secret. Your Mum and Dad have never seen inside my hut, so they can’t know what it’s like, can they?”

“Wow, Uncle Albert!” Alex exclaimed, as he passed through the door, “It’s much bigger inside than outside.”

“That’s right, lad,” he replied. “You didn’t think I’d live in a pokey little thing like that, did you?”

“But it looks so small and old.”

“Only on the outside, lad; only on the outside. A bit like me, really,” the old man chuckled.

“But how does that work? How can it be bigger inside than outside?”

“There was a telly programme back in the 60s. A bloke in it; some kind of doctor, as I recall, had an old police call box. You wouldn’t know what one of them is, but in the days before mobile phones, before most people even had phones in their houses, the police had these boxes on the streets. There was a phone inside them that you could use to talk to the police if you needed them. Anyway, that’s what he used for his hut, and I remember it being bigger inside than out. I liked the idea of that and I decided I’d fancy one just like it, but I use a shepherd’s hut instead. I call it Jarvis.”

“You mean Doctor Who, Unkie!” Alex exclaimed.

“I do, lad. How do you know about Doctor Who?”

“It’s still on. Never miss it, we don’t. His box is called a Tardis; stands for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. What does Jarvis stand for?”

“Not much, lad, especially these days. He gets more ill-tempered by the week, does Jarvis.”

“You talk about it is though it’s a person!”

“Not a person, lad, not a person; but Jarvis is more than a machine. Oh yes, Jarvis has a personality, and he makes sure I know it.”

“So what is it… he?” Alex asked.

“Jarvis is not a machine, but he’s more than a machine. He’s not a living soul, but he’s more than a living soul. The word that describes him is bitek, lad; bitek.”

“I don’t get it.” Alex complained, “How does it work?”

“I can’t tell you that, lad,” the old man explained, “and there’s a reason I can’t tell you how it works.”

What is Jarvis? What is bitek? And what is this thing that Albert lives in? Who or what is Albert, why can he not tell Alex how Jarvis works, and where does Doctor Who fit into the story? This tale has just begun, and it must be continued; though not necessarily by me. I am throwing this open; let me have your suggested continuations. All I receive will be published here, with links to your own blog. The one I like best will form the basis for the next segment of this collaborative tale.

This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site earlier this week.



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