a tale in weekly parts
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.
You can see the full story so far at this link.
“Can you, er, give me a couple of seconds, guys?” Albert said to the waiting trio, “I need to tidy up just a little more.”
Albert walked in and closed the door. The inside, which was fine when he left it, now had a decor and furnishings that made the word ‘flamboyant’ embarrassed by its inadequacy.
“Timeout,” he said, invoking the safe word that caused Jarvis to step out of time. “What’s the idea? You know that this is important to Alex. Why are you trying to ruin it, and how did you do it without my knowledge?”
“Come, come, Albert. You know that you don’t have total access when you’re in that body. I hold on to some functions, pathways and memories that have to stay in my direct control. As to why… you called me camp. And if I’m going to be called camp, then I’m ruddywell going to be camp. This camp enough for you, dearie?”
“What I think of it doesn’t matter, Jarvis,” Albert replied, “but what Alex’s parents think of it certainly does. Incidentally, I think it’s gorgeous; keep the scheme and we can use it later. Meanwhile, put it back as it was, there’s a good chap.”
Reluctantly and slowly, Jarvis painstakingly re-fashioned the interior to be exactly as it was when Alex stepped out.
“Thank you,” Albert said, “Resume.”
With that, he stepped back out again.
From the point of view of Alex and his parents, no time had passed.
Mr Grahamson turned to his wife and said, “I believe there’s a heat source somewhere around here, my dear.”
“Why’s that, Dad?” she replied.
“I thought I saw the merest hint of a shimmer while looking at the hut, which must have been heat haze.”
Albert heard that snippet of conversation and responded to the wink that Alex cast at him. Alex had experienced shimmering like this before and, though he didn’t know what caused this one, he was fully aware that there had been some phasing in and out of time.
“You can come in now,” Albert said, standing back and giving an expansive sweep of his arm in invitation.
They all went in.
“It’s very neat and tidy in here, Dad, and very clean,” Alex’s mother said.
“That it is, Mother, that it is,” replied the boy’s father, “but it’s totally inadequate for four people, size-wise. If I were asked to give a word to describe its suitability for four people, the word I would choose would probably be ‘cramped’.”
“Then it’s a good thing there’s just one of me,” Albert replied.
“Tell me, Albert. When young Alex comes to visit you, where does he sit, or stand, or whatever he does?”
“We sit together on the bed, of course,” Albert said, “where else?”
“And you think that’s fit and proper, do you?” he asked, “A young, impressionable boy, sharing a bed with an old man, alone, shut inside this hut. Don’t you think Child Protection Services would have something to say about that?”
“Are you being serious, Dad?” Alex asked, “You’ve known Unkie since you were my age; you told me yourself. And you’re suggesting he may be abusing me? He could sue you for slander.”
“Nobody’s suggesting anything, boy,” his father replied, “I’m just saying that Child Protection Services would think it strange.”
Coming to her son’s defence, his mother asked, “And how will Child Protection Services be in possession of information about where my son chooses to spend his afternoons, and who he chooses to spend them with? Answer me that.”
“Look. I’m not saying anything. I just made an observation, is all.”
“And I’m just making an observation that just because your own father was a domineering, controlling bastard to you; your words, not mine; doesn’t mean you have to be the same with your son. Leave the boy alone. If he has a problem, he will come and tell me. Not you, because he knows you won’t listen to him, you’ll just go off on one, as always. As he hasn’t told me about any problem, I shall assume he doesn’t have one. Okay?”
“Too many people in here,” Alex’s Dad said, finally, “it’s getting stuffy. Let’s go outside for some air.”
“Pah!” was all his wife replied.
“We’ll all go out,” Albert said. He stayed behind for a moment after the family had left. Before leaving, he said, “Standard configuration?”
“Standard configuration, love,” Jarvis replied.
Albert exited the hut, which gave the merest hint of a shimmer after his foot left the bottom step. He smiled to himself and sent Jarvis a telepathic hug.
He approached the Grahamsons and saw that Alex’s parents were in the middle of a heated discussion… okay, they were having a row. He interrupted them.
“So, Mr Grahamson, are you okay with Alex continuing to visit me in my hut? I wasn’t sure from what you said before.”
“What I think doesn’t seem to matter around here any more,” he said, spitting the words out, “but his mother’s happy with it so that’s it, I suppose.” He then walked away, his steps recording 1.95 on the Richter scale.
“Of course we’re happy with it, Albert,” his mother said, “Never mind him, he just can’t accept that other people have views that are not the same as his jaundiced, bigoted, self-righteous opinions.” She walked back to the house much more calmly than had her husband.
Albert turned to Alex.
“We have to go on a short trip, lad,” he said.
“Ooh, about four centuries, I should think.”
“Into the future?” Alex asked, excitedly.
“No, lad, into the past. We picked up an alien virus when we went looking for Jinniskeet. We’ve contained it, but we need to drop it off somewhen it can’t do any harm. Four hundred years ought to be enough.”
“Can I come?”
“Of course. We’ll be back within minutes of leaving. Your folks won’t know you’ve gone.”
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 18 of this collaborative tale.
This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.