Albert and Jarvis part 42

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 42

“What do you mean, Albert?” Al asked, “It’s New Year’s Eve; what’s not to understand about it?”

“Of course, I understand the concept, son,” Albert replied, “but I don’t understand why you make such a fuss about it.”

“Because it’s New Year’s bloody Eve. Tomorrow; in less than five minutes’ time, it will be a new year, a new beginning with new possibilities.”

“Let me see if I’ve got this right. At an arbitrary point in your planet’s orbit around its star—”

“It’s not arbitrary, Albert. It’s at exactly the same time each year; each orbit, if you prefer.”

“I’ll grant you that it’s now after a fixed number of day/night cycles, but it was originally fairly random. Anyway, at this point; which isn’t exactly the same every cycle, which is why you vary it every fourth orbit, but not every 100th orbit unless it’s the ten thousandth; you all celebrate the start of a new orbit and the whole world goes mad. What I want to know is: why?”

“Because it’s… oh, I give up.”

Jarvis felt the need to intervene; “There’s no logic to it. Why don’t you do it on the solstice? At least that has some semblance of a plan to it. But eleven days after the solstice is—”

“Random,” Albert added. “No point in trying to find logic in it, dear. Humans don’t run on logic, they run on emotions.”

“How awful for them,” Jarvis said, “We must do something to help them.”

“Haven’t you done enough already?” Al asked, “I’m only mostly human, Xander is partly human and poor Alice is hardly human at all.”

“That’s another thing about humans, love,” Jarvis said to Albert, “terrible ingrates, the lot of them. You give them abilities, knowledge and awareness they wouldn’t otherwise have, and do they thank you? No. They complain because they’re different from the rest of their species that infest this planet. I don’t know why we bother, my sweet, I really don’t.” Had Jarvis been blessed with the ability to fold his arms with an air of petulant defiance, now is exactly the time he would have used it.

“Let them be, Jarvis; Al especially. He’s had a lot to take on board over the past couple of weeks. He’ll need time to adjust.”

“Okay, love. Everybody outside; I’ll manifest a firework display for you.”

“Won’t that be dangerous, Jarvis?” Xander asked, “We’re very close to the house and loads of stuff that’ll go up in flames if anything touches them.”

“Puh-lease,” Jarvis said, “do you seriously expect me to use fire to make this display? Go outside and be amazed. Stand by the trees and look toward me.”

Madge was in the house, preparing party food for the occasion, so wasn’t privy to Jarvis’s instruction. Albert, Al, Kr’veth’neq’is and Xander trooped out and lined up by the leylandii that formed the informal boundary between the house and Jarvis’s domain. Seconds later, on the stroke of midnight, Jarvis started to manifest the best pyrotechnic display any of the Grahamsons had ever seen.

“This is the best pyrotechnic display I have ever seen,” Al said, “but what if the Police come, or one of those council snoopers? We don’t have a licence for this display, and I’m sure Elfin Safety would have something to say about our proximity to the source of the display. And what would they think about Jarvis being at the centre of it, what with all that wood and plastic and everything?”

“I see your point, Al,” Albert replied, “but don’t forget, Jarvis is a bitek construct. Like me, he doesn’t actually exist; not in the form you experience him in, anyway. Xander will understand that; he can do a small amount of manifesting; and Kr’veth’neq’is is a most accomplished manifestrix.”

“I may be being a bit dim here, Albert. But what exactly do you mean by manifesting?”

“Let me see. Are you a fan of Star Trek or other science fiction television?”

“I wouldn’t say a fan as such, but I’ve had to watch it sometimes, for the kids’ sake.”

“Do you understand what I mean by shape-shifting?”

“You mean like Constable Odo on Deep Space Nine?” As soon as Al asked the question, the way his brow furrowed, his eyes widened and his mouth fell open marked him as confused and surprised, shocked even. “My God, did I just say that?” he gasped, “How did I even know it?”

“Exactly like Odo, Al. What science-fiction writers refer to as shape-shifting, is just one small part of manifesting. Object manifesting; what Jarvis is doing with the ‘fireworks’, involves manipulation of time, space, light and air, or sometimes your perception of it, to product the desired sights, sounds and smells. Easy for us and not too difficult for humans, except that it used a part of the brain that you haven’t used since very early in your evolutionary journey. A small number of people can manage it, but they are almost always classed as frauds and charlatans. The more fortunate are labelled illusionists. It is a form of object manifestation, though. I think you could possibly learn to do it. Subject manifesting involves making yourself appear in a form other than your natural one. That’s much harder. Can’t be done by a human without bitek enhancement, and even then it’s problematic.”

“I think I understand. At least, I will do, after I’ve slept on it.”

“But you asked about permissions and so on. Jarvis and I are as good as it gets, as far as manifesting goes, subject and object. You won’t get any complaints about these displays, because only you can see, hear and smell it.”

“How does that work?” Xander asked.

“Same as mindspeak,” Albert said. “This particular manifestation is tuned to our shared wave-patterns, and the display only exists in our heads.”

“Are you saying we’re imagining all this?” Al asked.

“How can I answer that?” Albert mused, “Yes and no… with reservations on both,” he said; smugly, Al thought.

“Bloody politician’s answer, if ever I’ve heard one. So what you’re saying is that you can control our minds. Am I right?”

“Not at all,” Albert lied, “We can send you information that your brain interprets according to its own experiences, preferences and so on. You may be surprised to know that none of you is seeing the same display. Each of you is seeing what you expect to see.”

“I need a drink,” Al said and drifted off to the house.

Albert nudged Xander. “Want to see a real firework display?”

“Where?” Xander asked.

“Not on this planet, that’s for sure,” Albert replied.

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