Albert and Jarvis part 6

a collaborative tale

This story is open for suggested continuations. I will publish here, with links to your own blog, all I receive. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) the next episode of this collaborative tale.

The full story so far can be found here.


Episode 6

“Nearly then,” Jarvis chanted, “hold on, dears.”

“I still don’t get it, Unkie,” Alex whined, “How can anything have a casual relationship with time? That’s not how it works, is it? Things happen one after another; you can’t just change the order. You pour milk into an empty glass, and you end up with a full glass and an empty bottle, not the other way round; it can’t happen.”

“How long now, Jarvis?” Albert asked.

“Ten minutes, love,” Jarvis replied.

“Good,” Albert said. “Alex. Imagine you’re in a very large crowd walking along a road. What do you know about things where you are going and where you have come from?”

“I know about where we came from—”

“Do you? If you left an hour ago, when it was peaceful and quiet, do you know that it is still like that?”

“Maybe not,” Alex said, “and I certainly don’t know what it’s like where we’re going.”

“That’s because you’re in the present, and only know about the present, and what you remember or have been told about the past.”

“But what’s that got to do with time?”

“Bear with me, lad,” Albert said. “Now imagine yourself in a helicopter, high above the march; so high you can see all of it, from beginning to end. You’d be able to see that there are, perhaps, fights breaking out at the beginning, and that the crowd is walking over a cliff at the end. From where you were, in the middle, you’d have known nowt about either.”

“I get that, Unkie, but—”

“What if you could drop into the march; anywhere from beginning to end, and that you could come back up and drop down to another random place, as often as you want. That’s very much like having a casual relationship with time.”

“Nice one, sweets,” Jarvis enthused, “now hold on to your seats, we’re about to reach our destination. Alex. Here are the rules. You touch nothing. You speak to no-one. Anything you do or say that has any effect on anything or on any being or bitek construct risks altering the timeline. Worst case scenario is that our construction will not have happened. You would then be stranded here, because we wouldn’t exist to take you back.”

“But if you weren’t made, then you couldn’t have brought me here in the first place, could you?” asked smart-Alex.

“What do you know about chaos?” Jarvis responded.

“Quite a lot,” Alex said, “I’ve seen Prime Minister’s Questions on the telly lots of times.”

“Not relevant.”

“Not relevant? Have you seen it?” Alex asked anyone who was listening.

“I don’t mean that kind of chaos,” Jarvis said with what would have been a petulant pout, if he had possessed the equipment to produce that effect.

“No time,” Albert said, “we’ve arrived.”

“You mean we’re here?” Alex asked, almost jumping out of his seat.

“We’re here, we’re then, we’re now,” Jarvis replied, followed by a shout of “REMEMBER THE RULES!”, words that were displayed, in large and bright lettering, on every screen in the room.

There followed the slightest hint of a bump as Jarvis stopped moving in time.

“C’mon, lad,” Albert said. He and Alex rose from their seats and walked toward the outer door. Jarvis opened the door, allowing the two to leave.

As soon as they stepped out, Albert unfurled a huge pair of wings, picked Alex up like a baby and took to the air.

Alex didn’t expect that, either.

“I didn’t know you could fly, Unkie,” the boy said.

“Neither did I,” Albert replied, “and have you seen the state of Jarvis?”

Alex looked down. Jarvis was no longer a shepherd’s hut. Jarvis had the look of a multi-coloured, semi-transparent gelatinous mass with a strange-looking head perched on top.

“What the… what is he?” Alex asked. “He looks more like Jabba the Hut2 than a shepherd’s hut.”

“That’s our natural form,” Albert replied. “I am just a manifestation of part of our psyche, and my form depends on where I am, who I’m with, and what I need to do. We decided that the safest way to show you what we wanted you to see was from the air, so I have wings.”

“When you say ‘we decided’, was it both of you or just Jarvis?”

“I am Jarvis, and Jarvis is me. We are one. So the answer to your question, whether we both decided, is ‘yes and no’.”

“With reservations on both, like my Dad says?”

“Probably. Anyway, here’s the facility where we were, or rather are being made,” Albert said, descending slowly toward a small structure in the middle of a barren plain that seemed to stretch forever, covering Alex’s entire field of view.

“What is it?” Alex asked.

“I suppose you’d call it a building.” Albert replied.

“Is this the only one?”.

“No, there are others; probably about ten on the entire planet.”

“I didn’t mean bitek factories, I meant buildings, full stop.”

“So did I, lad. So did I.”

The building was like nothing Alex had ever seen. It was similar to Jarvis, a formless, shapeless, gelatinous mass, but on a much larger scale. There were no visible doors or windows, yet what looked like small flying machines were constantly passing in and out. Alex was nonplussed.

“How does this work, Unkie?” Alex asked as they descended toward what looked like an impermeable wall of jelly.

“This is an intelligent facility,” Albert replied. “It will have noted our approach and recognised me as being of its creation. It will form a temporary opening for me to pass through. You will be allowed in because I am carrying you. Don’t try to get away from me; the facility would reject you as an alien being and neutralise you.”

“Wow. You mean kill me?”

“Worse than that. It would reduce you to your basic chemical structures and incorporate them for its own use.”

“I’ll stick with you, Unkie,” Alex conceded.

“Thought you might,” Albert said.

With that, an iris formed in front of them, and they passed through into the interior. Like Jarvis, it was larger inside than out. It was a single chamber that seemed to stretch from horizon to horizon, though, Albert explained, that was an illusion.

“Illusion?” Alex asked, “How? Is it done with mirrors, or something clever like, say, bending light?”

“You’re closer than you think,” Albert replied. “Funny stuff, light. It’s particles, and it’s waves; it’s both, but it’s neither, if you see what I mean.” The depth of the furrows on Alex’s brow suggested that he didn’t. “But light has a relationship with time; it has a fixed speed through vacuum and gases, for instance. No, it’s not light that is bent in this chamber, it’s time.”

2Star Wars character

This story remains open for suggested continuations. All I receive will be published here, with links to your own blog. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) episode 7 of this collaborative tale.

This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.

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