Albert and Jarvis Part 20

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.

Episode 20

Alex took a seat next to Albert and started fiddling with his belt buckle.

“Try not to fidget, lad,” Albert advised, “you’ll need to listen very carefully to what I have to tell you. It’s complicated, even for someone as bright as you, and it’s possibly painful to hear in parts—“

“Oh, cut the waffle and get on with it, love,” Jarvis said. “The lad can take it. If not, we’ll wipe the memory for him.”

“I’m okay,” Alex said, “but just tell me what you have to say. I’ll deal with it, and if not, you can do a Men in Black memory wipe on me, like Jarvis said.”

“Okay,” Albert said, “if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

“Really?”

“He’s said he’s sure already,” Jarvis piped in, “just do it.”

“Alex,” Albert began.

“Unkie,” Alex replied.

“The first thing I have to say, is that we, bitek and human, are all delighted with the way you’re turning out.”

“But?”

“But nothing. We’re delighted. I just wanted to tell you that.”

“Is what you’re going to tell me likely to make me doubt that?”

“Not at all.”

“Get on with it, for pity’s sake!” Jarvis almost screamed.

“We’re delighted with you. You are proof that carefully controlled bitek/human hybridisation can work across generations, but you weren’t the first attempt.”

“I know that,” Alex said, “you told me already that my dad was, but that he doesn’t show any bitek traits.”

“That’s right. He was the first generation, the F1 hybrid. You are F2; that much is clear?”

“Uh-huh.”

“What you didn’t know, though, is that there was a child born to your parents before you. Alice, she was called.”

“The girl in the room?”

“Exactly.”

“What happened to her?”

“Alice was far and away the most beautiful daughter any father could wish for. And bright? By the time she was five years old, Alice was manifesting abilities that you have still to discover. She and I had a relationship similar to the one you and I enjoy, but even more clandestine. When she was six, Alice could manage a trans-dimensional jump, meaning we could meet well away from prying eyes. She even did it in the middle of meals, returning at the same instant she left.”

“Didn’t Mum and Dad notice anything?”

“Your father often said that he thought he saw Alice shimmer sometimes, but put it down to his eyes playing tricks on him.”

“Ooh, I love that expression,” Jarvis interrupted. “Just imagine; your own eyes ganging up against you to play tricks on you. What if your hands ganged up against you and played tricks on you. Imagine what fun they could have; hands making their own decisions and doing things whether you want them to or not!”

“Yeah,” Alex sighed, “it’s called being drunk. Is that why Dad was so upset when he saw Jarvis shimmer?”

“I expect so, lad. Anyway, one day, when she was eight, Alice joined me on one of our secret meetings, desperately upset.”

“What was she upset about?”

“By that time, she was intellectually so superior to your parents and her school friends; even her teachers; that she felt totally alone. The only contact she ever had with an intellectual equal, she said, was with me. She begged me not to make her go back. I tried to reason with her; to convince her that she would learn to accept and even enjoy her status, and that the upset she would cause her parents by not going back would be unbearable for them. But her mind was made up, and there was no budging her when she was that resolved.”

“So what happened?”

“She jumped to our home world, the one we took you to on your first trip, to a time when there were facilities that would allow her to develop as a bitek, surrounded by her equals; near-equals, actually, as her humanity added something special to the basic bitek package, and made her unique, even there.”

“So she just disappeared?”

“As far as your parents knew, she was at the dining table, reading or doing homework or something, when she simply stopped being there. Where once was Alice, was an empty chair. Your father stood and watched as the indentations made in the chair by her buttocks slowly, painfully slowly, faded.”

“Was I there then?”

“You were, but you’ll have no memory of it. You were only a few months old.”

“So what happened?”

“Your father changed overnight. He lost his positive outlook on life and started slipping into depression. He became the unhappy man you have always known. Your mother did what she could, but he insisted on making Alice’s room into a shrine, convinced that she would come back one day. Ten years later, he still believes that and still, some nights, goes into her room and cries himself to sleep in her bed.”

“What became of Alice?”

Albert was unsure how far he should go with this, and sought support from Jarvis.

“Jarvis?” he asked.

“Tell him,” Jarvis replied.

“Everything?”

“Everything.”

“The thing is, Alex,” Albert began, “Alice is still alive, still enjoying her life as a human-enhanced bitek and, remarkably, still growing in abilities and in her humanity.”

“So is there any chance she could come home?”

“Of course; any time she chooses. However, she believes that the upset she could cause by appearing to her human family as she is now, is many times greater than what they feel already. She has become a very compassionate, caring entity.”

“Could I meet Alice?”

“She doesn’t call herself Alice now, she chose her own name from a culture that inhabited a nearby galactic quadrant many eons ago. And you have already met her.”

“Not—“

“Yes, Kr’veth’neq’is is Alice.”

“Kris is my sister?”

“She is.”

“You know what that means, Unkie?”

“What does that mean, Alex?”

“That means I’ve seen my sister naked. Ewww, gross!”

Bitek laughter is something that’s not heard too often, but when it is, it is likely to register on seismographs.

The British Geological Survey recorded a disturbance of magnitude 2.8 that morning.


 

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 21 of this collaborative tale.