Albert and Jarvis part 31

a tale in weekly parts

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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 31

What could be better than a traditional English tea, complete with sherry trifle, a selection of sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and tea cakes, all washed down with a cup of finest Darjeeling?

What a pity that wasn’t available. Still, as Al pointed out after the meal, as he transferred responsibility for supporting his weight from his feet to the easy chair, in a motion best described as a ‘flop’, “Bread and jam wi’ a good strong brew’ll sort any man out.”

“Pity about us girls,” Madge replied, nodding toward Kr’veth’neq’is.

“Don’t worry, Mum,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “I don’t drink tea, but Chav enjoyed it.”

“He does enjoy a good cup of tea,” Madge agreed, “good for his coat, so I’ve heard tell.”

“Why not pour it straight on in that case,” Al suggested, “save all the drinking and digesting and such.”

Albert stood up from his chair at the dining table. “I’ve enjoyed your company, as ever, Mrs G, Mr G, but we really must get on. We have a trip planned. Ready Xander, Kr’veth’neq’is?”

“Ready,” they chorused.

“Where; or when; are you going,” Dad asked, “and how long will you be gone?”

“We’re going into a possible future,” Albert said, “Xander will tell you about it when we get back.”

“And when, may I ask, will that be?”

“When do you want me back?” Xander asked.

“Not too soon,” his father replied, “don’t want any of that shimmering, but you have to be back for school in the morning. And I don’t want you too tired then.”

Albert gave a wink in Kr’veth’neq’is’ direction and said, “He’ll be well rested, but we’ll get him back in an hour or two anyway. Is that okay?”

“Fine, but I don’t want any noise; I’m having an early night. G’night.”

“Good night, Dad,” Xander said, echoed by similar expressions from Albert and Kr’veth’neq’is.

The three made their way through the garden and boarded Jarvis.

“When and where are we going, Unkie?” Xander asked.

Jarvis intoned, “Destination time is today’s date in 2055, exactly forty years forward. Location is a planet in the middle of this galaxy. It is the closest inhabited planet to SMBH, the super-massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy.”

“Ooh,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, excitedly, “I’ve not been to that part yet. Anything I need to know?”

To say that Xander was worried by Jarvis’ laugh that answered that question would be an under-statement. It was akin to the laugh he was used to hearing from the villain, who had just tied the fair maid to the railway line as the locomotive sped along the track.

“What’s funny,” he asked hesitantly.

“We are going to Newtonia, the only planet in the galaxy where normal laws don’t apply.”

“Is it dangerous, then?”

“Yes, but not the way you are thinking.” Of course, Xander’s thoughts were open to Jarvis, no matter how hard he tried to shield them, which wasn’t very hard at this point.

“How, then?” he asked, “Surely lawlessness always means violence, robberies, beatings and so on.”

“You are thinking of the absence of laws as in social norms, criminal laws and that sort of thing, aren’t you?” Albert interjected.

“What other sort is there?” Xander asked.

“Open your mind, lad. Don’t keep it in a straitjacket. On Newtonia, the physical laws that govern the universe are suspended. Not all of the time, only occasionally; and not all of the laws, only some of them. And not always the same ones.”

“So what you’re saying is—”

“What Albert is saying,” Jarvis explained, “is that you won’t know from one minute to the next, which physical laws will apply, to what extent, and for how long.”

“Let me get this straight. You are talking about… gravity?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Thermo-dynamics?”

“Yup.”

“Relativity?”

“General and special.”

“Conservation of energy?”

“Oh, especially that one.”

“That sounds like a recipe for—”

A whole lot of fun!” Kr’veth’neq’is almost screamed.

A ‘bing-bong’ sounded throughout Jarvis’s interior. “We’re there… We’re then… Oh, to Hell with it – We’ve arrived!” he said.

The door opened. They were on a smooth, level surface with the look of polished marble. Xander was first down the steps, and the first to trip over nothing. So confused was he by having done that, that he didn’t notice that he hadn’t hit the ground. He was floating half a metre above the surface.

Albert and Kr’veth’neq’is floated down to him, took his arms and legs, and helped him to the ground.

“Gravity could come back at any time,” Albert said, “and you won’t want to be off the ground when it does.”

“Be careful, kids,” Jarvis shouted.

Kr’veth’neq’is pointed to a group of houses a few hundred metres behind them, “Any idea what that is?” she asked.

“Let’s go see,” Albert replied, “but let’s be careful; you never know… ooof!”

Gravity had just decided to join the party.

“God! It’s all I can do to walk,” Xander complained, struggling for breath.

“Normal gravity on Newtonia is about three times what you’re used to,” Albert said, “just take it steady until you’re fully acclimatised.”

The walk to the settlement took a long time, much longer than it should have, and was much harder than it should have been.

“We haven’t come far,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, turning to look back toward Jarvis. As she did, the sleeve came off her dress. “What the…” she said.

“Okay; no sudden moves for a while. It looks like the yarn used to stitch clothing has lost its integrity.”

“You mean…” Xander started to say as one of his trouser legs parted company with the rest of the garment. He raised a hand as if to strike his palm on his forehead, but succeeded only in poking himself in the eye.

“How do people live like this?” he asked.

“You’ll see, when we reach the town,” Albert replied.

Three stubbed toes, two black eyes, five grazed knees and numerous wardrobe malfunctions later they reached the settlement. At the head of every street was a signboard similar to those found in railway stations and airports, listing the laws and their status. They entered the town at the junction of three roads. Xander made a discovery.

“The three boards are different,” he said, “the first says all the laws are active, cause and effect is suspended on the second, with a probability of 80%, and the third shows probability and gravitomagnetism as suspended, though no percentage probability is given.”

“Duh,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “That’s because probability’s suspended, little bro.”

“Left it is, then,” Albert decided. “Maybe there’s a tailor, so we can have these clothes repaired.”

“And a pharmacy,” Xander added.

“Good thinking; but take care. All the laws are okay for now, but we don’t know how long that will last. Kr’veth’neq’is; see if you can find a teacher or someone who can bring us all up to speed on how to cope with the way things are here.”

“Sure thing,” she said, blinking out of existence.

“What’re the chances our ability to move through space and time will be affected, d’you think?” Xander asked.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,” Albert said, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Ever so cautiously and with great circumspection, they walked down the road toward a building on which was hanging what looked like an apothecary’s sign.


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 32 of this tale.


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