Albert and Jarvis part 77

a tale in weekly parts

You can see the full story so far at this link.

Episode 77

The Grahamson house was quiet for the next week. Sure; Alex, Alice and the dogs phased out and in a few times, but Al and Madge were, by now, used to that happening.

Wednesday evening saw the family relaxing in the lounge, their attention fixed on the television, where the latest iteration of the space opera that they all enjoyed was playing out yet another crisis.

Al and Madge were on the edge of their seats as the action unfolded, while their offspring tried so very hard to suppress laughter.

“What’re you sniggering at?” their mother asked.

“Sorry, Mum,” Alex replied, “but you know how the original Star Trek series looks now?”

“Yeah,” Al said, “compared with these new series, it was like the Woodentops in space.”

“Compared with reality, that’s what this looks like to us.”

“Is it that bad?”

“Worse, Dad.”

“Here’s a thing. Couldn’t you two get jobs as advisers to the people who make these programmes? It’d make them more realistic and probably make you rich.”

“True, but without letting them into our secrets, our ideas would seem to them to have less authority than their current ‘scientific’ advisers.”

“Why less?”

“Because we’re younger, and don’t have any recognised science or even writing credentials.”

“But if the sets are wrong, and the aliens unrealistic, surely the concepts are sound?”

“The things that vary across the universe; body types, political and cultural systems, that sort of thing; are wide open. Whatever you propose can’t be ‘wrong’ as such. You can even play with the basic physics in speculative fiction; tricorders, warp drives and so on, as long as it’s basically believable. Time travel is different, though. There are rules. Rules that can’t be broken. Things that can’t be done. Things that, once done, can’t be undone. But if we pointed that out to them, we’d have to say how we know. And we can’t do that, obviously.”

“So: you see yourselves like Superman, do you?” Madge asked.

“What d’you mean, Mum?”

“Well; you’ve got a secret to keep from ordinary people: special abilities that you have to keep hidden.”

“Yeah,” Alex said, “kind of, I suppose.”

“I don’t envy you that. I’d hate to have to keep secrets.”

“You do have to keep secrets now, Love,” Al said, “You can’t let anyone know what you know about the kids, or the dogs.”

“Or you,” Madge added, “Don’t forget you’re in on this, too.”

The mood in the room became at once sombre and apprehensive. The family rose as one and departed to their respective bedrooms. Even the dogs, sensing the atmosphere and understanding its cause, broke with their normal practice of heading for their sleeping quarters, and followed the youngsters to their rooms. Alice and Alex occupied adjoining rooms and both were in the habit of leaving their door open, allowing the dogs to move freely between them. Not that they needed that to be able to talk together, or to the dogs; their communication abilities were far less constrained than most people’s.

“Seven o’clock tomorrow?” Alice asked.

“Make it eight,” Alex replied, “give the olds chance to wake up.”

“Okay. G’night Alex, g’night Chav, g’night Ixus,” she said.

“G’night, Alice,” Alex and the dogs chorused.


Eight o’clock on the dot, Chav woke Alice by climbing on top of her and treating her to the kind of licking that was not far short of a blanket bath. In the next room, Ixus was doing the same to Alex. Semi-conscious, Alex tried to push her off; an action which she took as an invitation for a spell of rough-and-tumble. She immediately reared up, snarled, and set about gently nipping Alex’s arm. Alex responded by grabbing high up her forelegs, which always raised the tempo of her retaliatory snaps. After a minute or so, Alex signalled to her that he had endured enough of her boisterousness for one day, and promptly jumped out of bed.

When he and his sister made it to the kitchen, they found their parents already up and eating breakfast, dressed in what they called their ‘going out’ clothes.

“Going somewhere special?” Alice asked.

“You tell us. You told us to keep today clear, so we have. So; what’ve you got planned for us?” Al replied, resplendent in an outfit that wouldn’t have been out of place at a millionaire’s yacht party.

Madge, who was wearing an outfit that was as timeless as her husband’s, added, with some excitement, “You do know that today is our Silver Wedding anniversary, don’t you? I expect it has something to do with silver.”

“I just hope we’re not going to be on the set of the Lone Ranger,” Al said.

“The lone ranger?” Alex asked.

“Hi-yo, Silver, away!” Al responded, his almost manic laughter failing to hide his nervousness.

“Hold on to Mum, Sis. I’ll hold Dad. You guys are about to have a treat you won’t forget in a hurry.”

Alice hugged her mother while Alex did the same to his father. The children and their dogs closed their eyes briefly. When they re-opened them, the scene had changed and their parents’ clothing, so out of place in their suburban kitchen, looked exactly right for where, and when, they now found themselves.