a tale in weekly parts
(formerly Albert and Jarvis)
In episodes 1-88, Albert and Jarvis told the story of a bitek construct that had been in the lives of the Grahamson family for three generations. Appearing in the form of a shepherd's hut (Jarvis) and its elderly occupant (Albert), an earlier experiment had resulted in the birth of Aloysius, a non-manifesting human/bitek hybrid. Alice and Alex, the two children that Aloysius had fathered with his wife, Magdalen, displayed strong bitek capabilities from an early age, though Alice was significantly more precocious than her younger brother. Albert and Jarvis nurtured and enhanced these capabilities through many adventures until the point where, to prevent a global catastrophe, the two needed to act together. The action needed more power than the two possessed. To produce stonger hybrids, Alex's seed was used to produce a young in a distantly related hybrid female in another dimension, while Alice was impregnated using her own bitek components. Albert and Jarvis absented themselves from the lives of the Grahamsons to allow Alice's pregnancy to progress in a safe, normal environment.
You can see the full story so far at this link.
For the first ten years of his life, Zachary Grahamson had lived as near to a normal, human life as could be achieved. He had been schooled in the sciences to a degree that no human student before him had ever been, and his knowledge and understanding of what is loosely termed ‘humanities’, which included the arts, in all their forms, as well as the social sciences, was of the highest order. And yet he always knew that there was more. From time to time, he had seen his mother, his uncle and his great-grandfather doing what his grandfather disparagingly referred to as ‘shimmering’. He knew that this had to do with a form of travel that was not available to ordinary people. The information his mother, his uncle and his great-grandfather had given him about this thing they called bitek was helpful, but still he knew there to be more; knowledge as yet closed off to him.
Around the dining table for their weekly family conference, the Grahamsons were waiting for Albert to tell them what comes next.
“We all know what’s going on,” Al said, he having unilaterally nominated himself family spokesperson, “now, out with it. The boy’s ten now and your fancy education plan has come to an end. What I want to know is this. What now?”
“Now,” Madge replied, “you shut up. Alice. What’s on your mind?”
“Nothing I haven’t already shared with Albert and Alex,” she said. Turning to Albert, she said, “We’re ready, Albert.” This was purely for her parents’ benefit. She, Alex and Albert (and Jarvis, of course) had talked about little else for days.
“Ready for what?” Al asked.
“Ready to start the boy’s enhancements,” Albert said.
“Enhancements? What enhancements? What are you talking about? How does the boy need to be enhanced?”
“Dad,” Alex said, “do you really need to ask that? Okay, you and Mum didn’t know about Alice’s upgrades, but you know all about mine – Albert and I have told you about them in detail – and you’ve had some of your own, too. So have the dogs.”
“Oh, those enhancements,” Al said. “Must you? So soon? He’s just a boy.”
“Yes, he is,” Alice said, “but he’s a boy like no other, and he’s a boy with a job like no other. He needs to have his upgrades now, so he can grow into them and be ready when he needs to fulfil his destiny.”
“I can’t be doing with all this. Enhancements? Upgrades? Destiny? Are we all talking about the same ten-year-old boy?”
“Do I get a say in this?” Zak asked.
“No,” Al replied.
“Of course you do,” Alice said, shooting a harsh look at her father, “Granddad’s just being petulent. This is all about you. Of course, you get a say. Is there anything you— You’re there, aren’t you?”
Zak smiled. “Albert connected me to you and Alex, and to himself, earlier this afternoon. It’s been hard work shielding myself from you so you wouldn’t know, but yeah – I’m there, Mum.”
“What’s going on?” Madge asked, “Is Zak being taught to lie?”
“No more than you did when you hid his birthday present yesterday and told him you hadn’t bought him anything, Mum,” Alice said.
“Shall I go and get it?” Madge said excitedly.
“Please do, Grandma,” Zak pleaded, as Madge ran off, giggling like a schoolgirl.
“Do you know what it is, Albert?” Alice asked in a tight-beamed message that only Albert could detect.
Madge came back in with a box, about 35cm on each side, with a number of holes in each face. She handed it to Zak and admonished him to be careful with it. Sensing the seriousness of his grandmother’s tone, the boy placed the box on the table and carefully pulled back the tape, finally opening the top, slowly.
“Oh, Grandma,” he said, excitedly, “it’s a puppy!” He carefully picked the young dog up and gently held it against him. As if recognising him, the puppy immediately bathed Zak’s face with its tongue.
“He’s a German Shepherd, one of the most faithful and intelligent breeds—”
“And he’s mine!”
“And,” Albert said, “he’ll be enhanced while you sleep tonight.”
“And he’s mine! What’s he called?”
“That’s for you to decide,” Alice said, “Do you know why it’s for you to decide?”
“Because he’s mine! Can I call him Isaac, Mum? Can I?”
“He’s your pet, Darling, you can call him whatever you want; But why Isaac? Is there a reason?”
“Well, Isaac Newton, obviously; Isaac Asimov, the father of robotics; and a number of religions have a prominent figure named Isaac.”
“And that,” Albert intoned with what could only be called satisfaction, “is why we say that Zak is no normal ten-year-old.”
“But is he ready for all the changes he’ll face?” Al asked.
“I was only ten when I started on this journey,” Alex said.
“Aye, Lad, you were,” Albert said, “In fact, I suppose now is as good a time as any.”
Al, Madge and Isaac saw only that Albert, Alex, Alice and Zak shimmered. But what did that mean?