Albert and Jarvis part 11

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 11

Whatever this ability was that Kr’veth’neq’is had, it was powerful. Alex spent the rest of the journey in a cocoon of security and well-being. He didn’t experience anything when the voyage reached its conclusion; he didn’t know they’d landed, or whatever it is Jarvis does at the end of a journey, until the outer door was open and sunlight was streaming in through the aperture. Kr’veth’neq’is took his hand and led him out. As she did, she turned to Albert and said, “Any special orders, J?”

“Not really; no need to keep him away from his father, but – you know what to do to stop him compromising the time-line.”

“Sure do. Come on, lad.”

“Do you have to hold my hand, Kris?” Alex asked, trying to pull his hand away but failing to budge it.

“I’m afraid I do,” Kr’veth’neq’is replied. “Unless, of course, you want to risk ending up a timeless person.”

“I don’t even know what that means,” Alex said.

“What it means, lad, is that you would have no time you could call your own. All record and all memory of your presence in your own time-line would be erased. Even your parents would have no memory of you. You would be there as you are here; a spectre, out of place and out of time. Are you ready to risk that, just so I don’t have to hold your hand?”

“No,” he mumbled.

“Good. Let’s go.”

The pair left through the main door and emerged into a residential street, where some young boys were running about, kicking an empty can. At each end of the street were two piles of stones a couple of yards apart.

“They’re playing football,” Alex said. “Which one’s my dad?”

“Can’t you see?” Kr’veth’neq’is asked, “He’s the one who looks like you.”

“Oh yeah. He’s just turned around. He does look like me, doesn’t he?”

Kr’veth’neq’is laughed.

“Does that mean I’ll end up like him, Kris?” Alex asked, “I hope not; he’s not a happy man, and he has a bad temper.”

“I don’t think you’ll be like your father,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “You carry your mother’s genes as well as his, and there is another reason, one that Albert will explain later.”

“Another reason? How come you know stuff like that about me already, even though you’ve only just met me?”

“You’re thinking in linear terms again, lad. Just relax and accept that our relationship with time is—”

“casual,” Alex interrupted.

“Exactly. Now let’s go over there,” she said, pointing to what Alex recognised as his house; although he didn’t recall it being there a few seconds ago.

They walked toward the house and into the back garden, where Alex’s dad was playing cricket with his own father. Perhaps playing isn’t the best word for what was going on. Alex’s grandfather was giving his son detailed instructions.

“Now, boy, let’s have your feet twelve inches apart; not eleven or thirteen, but twelve inches, and your body at right-angles to the delivery. No, that’s only about eighty degrees, you stupid boy. Right angles means ninety degrees. Haven’t you been listening?” he shouted.

“Y-yes sir; s-sorry sir,” Alex’s father said, adjusting his stance.

“Now, when I bowl to you, I want you to keep your eye on the ball, and visualise its trajectory so you can have the bat in the best position to strike it away. Clear?”

“B-but how should I hold the bat, and how do I know how hard to hit the ball?”

“Oh, for God’s sake, boy. Use your brains! Cricket’s in your blood; I shouldn’t need to explain every detail to you. Just buck up your ideas and hit the bloody thing.”

“I think we’ve seen enough, lad, don’t you?” Kr’veth’neq’is asked.

“Yes, Kris. I think I can see why my dad is the way he is. He’s a bit like that with me, but not as bad as Granddad was to him.”

They turned and found Jarvis directly in front of them, his door wide open.

Entering through the door, Alex greeted Albert with a nod and a cursory wave. His mind was still on what he had seen.

“Come over here and sit down, lad,” Albert said, “there are some things you need to hear, and I want Kr’veth’neq’is to be with you when I tell them.”

Taking his cue, Kr’veth’neq’is wrapped Alex in an aura of calm, peace and acceptance. In that state, Alex would be well placed to deal with the information he was about to be given.

“Let me tell you something about what happens when we bitek units morph to a life-form,” Albert started, “It’s not just a shape-shifting thing. It happens at the genetic level. I don’t just look human, I become human. If you were to do a DNA test on me now, it would show that I’m 100% human.”

Alex was listening intently, taking in everything his ‘great-uncle’ was saying.

“Bitek is a developing technology,” Albert continued, “and many of the things we know, we’ve had to learn experimentally; and that’s still going on. We’d known for a long time that bitek units couldn’t reproduce in their native form; but after a number of experiments we found that we could reproduce while morphed to a species that uses sexual reproduction. A bitek can take male form and breed with a female of the chosen species. The result is young of that species. With me so far?”

“Yes, but what’s the point, if all you’re going to do is to produce another human or whatever you’ve morphed to?” Alex asked.

“No point at all,” Albert conceded, “that’s why it didn’t happen again, once we’d found out. The thing is, though, that we only know that because we tried it.”

“And why are you telling me this?”

“Because, Alex, while your grandfather was away on business, your grandmother and I had a brief relationship, one that I engineered, and that resulted in your father. Your grandmother kept the secret all her life; your grandfather went to his grave not knowing it, and your father doesn’t know it. The only living soul who knows about it is you.”

“So Dad is half-bitek. Is that what you’re telling me?”

“As always, lad, the answer is yes and no. Your father is 100% human, 100% normal. It turns out, though, that you have a recessive gene that makes you intellectually part-bitek. Have you never wondered how come you can understand concepts that adults struggle with? That recessive gene is the reason you are so much smarter than your friends, than your parents, than even your teachers.”

“So it’s your fault I get picked on at school and called all sorts of names, is it?” Alex said without rancour.

“What names are you being called,” Kr’veth’neq’is asked.

“Oh, the usual: nerd, brain-box, smart-Alex, professor; that sort of thing.”

“Those are compliments,” Kr’veth’neq’is reassured him. “Sure, they mark you out as different, but in a positive way. It has to be better than dunce, dimwit, thicko and so on. Look at it this way: in ten years time, your intellect will earn you a top job with prestige, power and a good salary. In ten years time, those people who call you names will be working for you and calling you ‘Sir’.”

Alex thought about this for some time, and his relaxing posture and his wry smile told Kr’veth’neq’is that he had accepted her reassurances.

“But, Unkie, does that mean I will be able to morph and have a casual relationship with time, too?”

“I doubt it, lad,” Albert replied. “The tests we did – Kr’veth’neq’is took a hair from your shirt when she brushed you off before going outside – showed the single recessive gene to be one that only affects your intellect. Although we can’t be completely certain; only time will tell us for sure; we don’t believe you will be able to morph, and you will have no bitek traits beyond your intellect. You are a normal, although unusually intelligent, human being.”

That said, Kr’veth’neq’is put Alex into a deep sleep with an instruction that would allow his brain to process what he had heard, and to absorb it into his psyche.

Alex drifted off, the word “Cool” escaping his lips as he did so.

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 12 of this collaborative tale.

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