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.
“Tomorrow?” everyone seemed to ask as though with a single voice.
“Haha. April fools,” Jarvis replied.
“So you didn’t mean tomorrow, then?” Alex asked.
“What’s April fools?” Kris asked, “Come to that, what’s tomorrow?”
Alex tried to explain. “April fools is an annual… no, that won’t work. It’s a day… nope. Erm, it’s a… It’s a linearist thing. Don’t worry about it.”
“If I may be permitted a comment,” Zak began.
“Proceed, young human,” Jarvis replied, “but choose your words with care.”
“I just wanted to point out that today isn’t the first of April.”
“Would you like me to analyse that statement for you, and point out its fallacies?” Jarvis asked.
“Leave the lad alone, Lover,” Albert said, “educate him by all means, but for goodness’ sake do it with some sensitivity.”
“Are you accusing me of being insensitive? I practically invented kid-gloves, I am the very soul of sensitivity…”
“Of course you are. Now, go on, tell him.”
“No need,” Zak piped up, “I’m quite aware that time has a different context here. Coupled with your legendary relationship with time, that basically means that you can designate any day as any date you choose. I am also fully aware that a change of date, time or place is never more than a whim away.”
Jarvis immediately burst into an impromptu and, it has to be said, a particularly un-tuneful rendition of The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
“I think we can do without that, Jarvis!” Albert snapped, “And those readers who’ve just joined in can stop, too. You know who you are… and so do we.” Turning to Zak, he continued, “Very astute, young man, and without a trace of sensitivity or even respect. You’ll go far.”
Meanwhile, the three terrans were deep in a conversation of their own. Albert looked in their direction with a wry smile. Alex and Alice heard, or rather sensed Albert in communication with Jarvis. Although they had no idea what was being said and, they thought, no prospect of ever finding out, they did notice that the terrans’ minds were suddenly open to them. Alex fired a message to Albert to let him know that he could now hear the terrans. The response surprised him. It didn’t come from Albert, but from Xander, and it said, “Yes, we can sense you, too.”
Alex nudged Alice on the elbow and nodded towards Zak.
“You know the way the dogs behaved when they were first enabled – deep in conversation?” he tight-beamed to his sister, “Just look at Zak and Zara.”
“Identical,” Alice replied, channelling Jim Trotter III as played by the late Lane Smith in the 1992 movie My Cousin Vinnie.
And identical it was. Zak and Zara were standing, facing each other, about four metres apart. Their gaze was fixed on the other’s eyes and their faces were alight with an emotion neither of them had ever felt before. Albert was beaming.
“This is exactly what we were aiming for,” Albert said to the adults present, “Zak and Zara are, by any measure you care to mention, two halves of the same whole. Not physically, you understand, but mentally and emotionally. You all saw the effect when we connected them. What they are experiencing now is completeness, wholeness; that sense so few people ever have that everything is right, in place, exactly as it should be. Marvellous. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
“I’m glad you’re happy, Albert,” Kris said, “but what will happen when we go back? How will they react to the separation?”
“That’s probably the best part of it. They won’t. This link is real and very deep. We fully expect that it will be able to span dimensions in a way that the links you enjoy can’t. And think what that means…”
“It means that their offspring will be the most complete, the most integrated being ever to walk any planet. That child will, without question, have the power needed to prevent this world from destroying itself.”
“But at what cost?” Xander asked.
Albert’s face dropped somewhat and lost a little of its radiance. “We don’t know,” he admitted, “but does it matter? Even if the loss of a single life, however advanced and however special that life may be, is the price to be paid to ensure the continuity of all life on this planet; who would baulk at it?”
“Perhaps the parents,” Alice said.
“I’m not saying that’s definitely going to happen,” Albert said, “we don’t know that. The projected timeline you saw earlier isn’t cast in stone, but it is so much stronger than any other projections that we simply can’t see them. All I am saying is that if the cost of saving the planet is the loss of one life…”
“We get that Albert, but it will still be hard for the parents if that happens.”
“That goes without saying, but I have noticed that many grieving parents are immensely proud of the sacrifice made by their child. And that’s exactly how I would expect Zak and Zara to feel; if it comes to that…”
“Which we all hope it won’t.”
A few metres away, Zak and Zara stopped looking at each other. Their expressions changed from what had every appearance of a lovers’ look to something darker, more sinister. They concentrated their gazes on Albert. For the first time in their experience, Albert’s four grandchildren saw him exhibit fear.