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.
“Where are they?” Zak asked, looking at the bare patch of dead grass, “They’re always here. They’re never not here.”
Alice held a hand up, palm forwards. Zak instinctively jumped as high as he could in an attempt to ‘high-five’ his mother but she withdrew her hand. “No. Shush, I’m concentrating.”
“I’m not sensing them,” Alex said.
Alice had a distant look about her, as though she were looking beyond the horizon for them. “Okay, got them,” she said suddenly.
“Where?” Alex asked.
“The Eddies place them in dimension eight – Terra.”
“What are they doing there?”
“Can’t you guess? They’ve gone to fetch Xander, Kris and Zara.”
“But Mum,” Zak said, “they normally just reappear at the same time they left. Why didn’t they now?”
“According to the Eddies, they had to go the long way around. No idea why; I don’t suppose there are traffic jams or road works, are there?”
“No, Mum, but event horizons close to the edge of both dimensions simultaneously can render the boundary point impassable.”
“What are the chances of that?” Alex asked.
“Ooh; I know that one,” Zak said excitedly, “it’s one in pi cubed multiplied by the speed of light in metres per second.”
“So about ten billions,” Alex offered.
“Nine point three, roughly,” Zak said.
“Ah,” Alice said, “but don’t forget everything is relative: what is a metre? What, not to put too fine a point on it, is a second?”
“I know what you’re thinking, Mum, but by international agreement, a metre is defined to be the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299792458 second”
“But that doesn’t explain what a second is. If it’s relative then so, by derivation, is the metre”
“A second, Mum, is the time needed for a caesium-133 atom to perform 9,192,631,770 complete oscillations.”
“So not relative then?”
“No, Mum. As close to absolute as anything can be. On Earth, anyway.”
“And you, young man,” Alex added, “have clearly been listening to your lessons and taking everything in. So when you say the odds against the co-incidence of two event horizons is 93. Billion to one against—”
“That’s what it is.”
“And yet the fact that they had to go a long way around suggests that it happened.”
“Yes. So what do we do now?”
“We wait, Zak. We wait.”
“Okay. You wait; I’m going to go and play with the dogs. Call me when they come back?”
“Of course,” Alice said, “have fun.”
Zak sent to the dogs that he was ready.
“What will we play?” Chav asked.
“Agility?” Zak suggested. The vibes he received from the three dogs told him all he needed to know. “Okay, guys. See you there.” Zak ran to the agility course. By the time he arrived, all three dogs were already there; all sitting nicely, like the well-trained and superbly behaved dogs they so patently weren’t.
“Okay, Zak,” Chav said, “who goes first?”
“You go first, Chav; show Isaac how we do it. Ixus, can you take care of the timing?”
“Sure thing, Zak,” Ixus said, “Ready, Chav? On my count. Three… two… one… GO!”
Chav dashed off, jumped through the hoops, turned, up the ramp, pause for one second then down the other side, and covered all the obstacles before coming to a stop in front of Ixus.
“One thirty-seven,” Ixus said.
“Not my best. I did one thirty-three last time. Okay, Ix, your turn. On three… two… one… GO.”
Ixus ran the course in one thirty-four. “Not fair”, Chav said, “you’ve got longer legs.”
“And I wasn’t even trying. Didn’t want to make you look bad.”
“Don’t forget she’s younger than you are, too, Chav,” Zak said.
“Speaking of younger. Let’s see what Isaac can do.”
“You ready for this, Isaac?” Zak asked.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
“You know what you have to do?”
“Yeah. It’s easy.”
“Go on, then.”
“Count me down. Count me down.”
“Okay, Isaac. Three… two… one… GO!”
Isaac set off.
In the wrong direction.
The see-saw was the wrong way around.
Isaac didn’t care.
Isaac was so fired up, he just jumped up onto the raised end of the thing, weighed it down, ran halfway along it and leapt into the air, coming to land at the exit of the tunnel. He ran part-way through it, realised that he’d gone wrong and tried to turn.
He failed, of course.
“NO ROOM TO TURN!” he shouted.
“Don’t try,” Zak said.
“BUT I’M GOING THE WRONG WAY.”
“So either back out or carry on.”
“WHICH ONE, THOUGH?”
“Leave it to me,” Chav said, running to the beginning of the tunnel and snarling. Isaac backed out faster than he had run into it. Chav seriously intimidated the poor pup.
Breathless, Isaac returned to the start point. “Can I try that again?”
“You need practice, Isaac,” Zak said, “I’ll come down with you for a few days to give you the chance to get to know the course. You two,” he said, looking at the older dogs, “stay away until Isaac is comfortable with the course.”
“How long?” Ixus asked.
“We’ll try for a rerun next week. Okay?”
“Okay,” the three dogs chorused; two of them morosely, the other with a note of excitement. No prizes for guessing who did what.
Zak started back toward where Jarvis is usually parked.
“They’re back,” his mother’s voice said in his head. He phased to where his mother and uncle were.
“You can do that by yourself now?” Alex asked.
“Been practising,” he replied.