Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 7.4

In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

A bump in the Knight is now being published here as a serial; one part each Sunday.


A Bump in the Knight. Chapter seven, part four

It’s difficult to describe the way I felt when Sophie laid into me for saying I could catch up on a few things. Of course, I’d rather be at David’s side with her, but if that option wasn’t available to me, what should I have done? She surely couldn’t have expected me to sit in the relatives’ room, twiddling my thumbs and fretting. How would that have helped David? Or her? Or anyone else? I was hoping against hope that the doctor was right and that it was the stress talking, not herself.

Still, not much to be done. I settled down in the cafeteria, had a slice of cake and a coffee, and gave some thought to what I could do. I popped out to the car and retrieved David’s toy tablet. It may be called a toy, but it does have actual, usable applications on it. Applications like the browser, which had recently become my preferred window on the world. You see, with the browser, you can do all of your emails, your social media (if you like that sort of thing; I certainly don’t) and you can buy and sell anything. You can even make Skype calls from inside the browser. All the knowledge in the world is there, waiting to be found, and all the misinformation in the world is also there, waiting to trip the unwary.

I had thought I’d try calling Danny on Skype, but it would have been gone eleven o’clock at night in Singapore, and he wouldn’t have thanked me for that. So I called Henk.

“What’s new, Boss?” he asked.

“Not much,” I said, “we’re on holiday in Cyprus, as you know. Things got a little bit silly this afternoon and well, to cut a long story short, poor little David has ended up in hospital with heat exhaustion.”

“Poor little fellow. Is he going to be okay?”

“Hope so. Sophie is with him now. I’m not allowed. The doctor says fathers tend to excite kids instead of calming them. That’s a first for me. Never been accused of exciting anyone before. So, anyway, I’m stuck here in this cafeteria drinking tea and eating cake. I’d much rather be with David and Sophie, but hey-ho.”

“How long before you can see him?”

“No idea, Henk. Medic just kicked me out and said nothing else. I imagine he’ll have someone come and find me when things are settled.”

“While you’re here, Boss, can we talk a little about Lindy and Tanja?”

“Please do. If you have any information beyond that little incident in Knight Towers, I’d be grateful to hear it.”

“Well. I’ve been monitoring Tanja’s calls in and out. Not just hers, you understand; our phone bill peaked a few months ago, and I’m trying to pin down whom I should discipline for it; but in the monitoring, I’ve found that she and Lindy are having half-hour conversations at least once a week during business hours.”

“Does your girl know you’re monitoring calls?”

“Absolutely. She had to set it up – I couldn’t!”

“So she must know that her calls are being watched, too.”

“Yes, she must.”

“So, either her calls are innocuous, maybe even loosely business-related, or she is so confident in whatever it is they’re doing that she believes you wouldn’t do anything about it.”

“Wouldn’t or couldn’t.”

“Can you eavesdrop?”

“I’d rather not.”

“But can you?”

“Yes, technically.”

“And legally?”

“If I have reason to believe that her calls are detrimental to the business or its good name, then yes, I can.”

“And do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Do you have reason to believe that her calls are detrimental to the business or its good name?”

“Let me think about that and get back to you Hannice.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow.”

I followed that up with a call to Max.

“A propos of what we were talking about, Max.”

“Which was?”

“Lindy’s relationship with Tanja.”

“You have something?”

“Henk tells me that they are on the phone for about half an hour at least once a week.”

“Does he know what it’s about?”

“No. He’s monitoring calls, but not their content. Not yet anyway.”

“Why don’t I talk to Lindy? Ask him outright.”

“Do you think that will work?”

“Only one way to find out, isn’t there?”

“Okay. Will you be able to let me know tomorrow?”

“I think so. Leave it with me.”

Some minutes later, Dr Kyriakis arrived and told me that David was out of danger and responding well. I walked with him back to the ward where my wife and son were. David looked less red, which was good, but still lacked his usual sparkle, which was not.

“How is he, and how are you doing?” I asked Sophie.

“His temperature is coming down nicely, and should soon be back to normal,” the doctor replied, “Your wife did well to keep him out of the sun, and I’m delighted to see there’s no sunburn at all; not like you, Mr Knight. You should probably get that looked at,” he said, pointing to the top of his head.

Until that point, it hadn’t registered with me that I had been walking in the full sun, and waiting around afterwards, for rather a long time, and the skin on my bald patch was feeling tight. I put my hand up to touch it, and immediately wished I hadn’t.

“You have some nasty blisters there. Weren’t you wearing a hat?”

“Left it in the car,” I said. “I know, stupid of me, but things were rather fraught at the time. Probably not thinking straight.”

Sophie looked at me in a way I’d never seen before. I didn’t recognise the flared nostrils and protruding eyes. In an unusually low, measured voice, she said, “If you had had the basic common sense to look at the petrol gauge before we left, this would never have happened. This is all down to you.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled.

“Sorry? Sorry? That might have worked the first time, and maybe even the second. But this is the fourth time in three weeks you’ve let the car run out of petrol and expected the hire company to come and bail you out. That isn’t forgetful. That isn’t absent-minded. That is careless. That is almost criminally negligent.”

“Steady on, old thing,” I said, “careless, I’ll grant you; negligent, even. But it’s hardly criminal, is it; forgetting to check the fuel gauge?”

On reflection, that probably wasn’t the best line to take. The clue was in Sophie’s response. She stood up and clenched her fists so hard that her fingernails must have drawn blood. Then, for the first time since I’d known her, she shouted at me. I mean really shouted.

“What if he had died?”

“I know,” I replied, “let’s be grateful that he didn’t.”

“No bloody thanks to you!” she yelled.

Hybrids part 96

a tale in weekly parts

(formerly Albert and Jarvis)

Albert, Jarvis, Trevor, Eos and Dawn

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.


Episode 96

A week is a very long time when you’re only ten years old – even if you just happen to be the most advanced human/bitek hybrid ever produced. For seven days after his birthday, the part of Zak that was a ten-year-old human boy, probably no more than forty percent of his persona, over-rode the older and wiser portion as well as the logic-driven bitek areas of his brain to produce exactly the level of excitement that you would expect to see from an intelligent, imaginative pre-teen.

And, despite their very best efforts, it was driving everyone else in the house: his mother, his uncle and his grandparents slowly but inexorably to that state of near-dementia that all parents know only too well.

Never having been a parent himself; not in the accepted, conventional sense of the word, anyway; Albert found the whole episode highly entertaining.

Finally, to just about everyone’s relief, the day arrived. Zak was up and about before 6am – a feat he never usually managed, even for such important occasions as Christmas. He spent the next two hours phasing between three bedrooms and Jarvis, waiting for someone… anyone to awaken and join him in his near-delirious state.

Albert was the first to surface. When he saw Zak standing there, jumping up and down as if in some kind of frenzy, he said just two short words. Zak was familiar with the second of the two words and knew not only what it meant, but also what it implied. The first word was new to him but when coupled with the second, he quickly picked up the gist of what Albert was trying to convey and phased off somewhere else.

Alice came to just before eight o’clock and saw her son standing at the foot of her bed.

“How long have you been standing there?” she asked.

“I don’t know how to answer that question,” he replied, “time is such a strange thing.”

“You can certainly say that again,” Alice said, immediately followed by, “on second thoughts – don’t. But listen. If you think normal time is weird, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

“What time can we go?”

“When everyone’s ready and not a second sooner. You really do need to learn patience, Zak.”

“Tried it once, remember? Dead boring. Fortnite’s fun, have you tried it?” Alice shook her head. Having just woken, her facial features were still half asleep, so it was impossible to tell whether the head-shaking was a negative reply or exasperation.

If he noticed, Zak didn’t care. “Shall I go and wake Granny and Grandpa?”

“Not if you like being alive.”

“What about Alex?”

“Moreso.”

“What can I do? I’m bored. I want to go, now!”

“You can go and set the table for breakfast. Will you do that?”

“Of course.

“But, Zak?”

“What?”

“Do it like a normal ten-year-old boy.”

“But that’ll take ages.”

“Yup. And Zak…”

“What?”

“Don’t go making a lot of noise doing it, just to wake everybody up.”

“What makes you think I’d do that?”

“Because I know you, young man, and because it’s exactly what I would have done at your age. In fact, I did. And I’ve still got the emotional scars to remind me.”

“Okay, I suppose.”

“Good lad.”

As every experienced mother knows, there are occasions when you ask for certain behaviour, not because you believe it’s going to happen, but because it’s part of the game. You have to ask for that behaviour, in a way that suggests you expect to see it. It’s almost a sacred duty. Just as your child is under an absolute requirement to do exactly the opposite of what you ask. In the words of the immortal bard, “‘Twas ever thus”. In the words of the immoral Bart, “Bite me!”

In less time than it takes to boil an egg (okay, we are talking spectacularly hard-boiled – it was nearly twenty minutes) everyone was around the dining table eating breakfast.

Not everyone was wearing their most cheerful face.

Zak was. Wearing his most cheerful face, that is. So, interestingly, was Albert. But then; he hadn’t been awakened by the clattering of crockery in the kitchen.

Quite soon, the five were tucking into what could only be described as a celebration of cholesterol: eggs, bacon, tomato, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding and hash browns – all fried in butter with a generous pile of baked beans on the side.

“Albert,” Madge said, “this trip you’re taking Zak on; is it for all of us?”

“Just Alex, Alice and Zak this time,” Albert replied, “I can get away with transporting humans through space and time – although you’ll remember how tired you were for days after your last trip – but not across dimensions. It could leave you with damage that is beyond medical science to repair.”

“What about me?” Al asked, “I’m not fully human – as my darling wife keeps reminding me—”

“If you think you’re going swanning around dimensions while I sit here twiddling my thumbs, Aloysius Grahamson, you’ve got another think coming!” Madge bellowed.

“Well, I think that answers your question, Al, don’t you?” Albert said with a grin.

“Hmmph!”

“Well,” Albert said, rising from the table [no, not levitation – he stood up. Although…], “if we’re all ready?”

Alex, Alice and Zak stood and moved to stand with Albert. Al started to move his chair in preparation. “SIT!” Madge commanded. Al remained seated while the others shimmered, reappearing with broad grins and, bizarrely, dressed – well, bizarrely.

“Can I tell Granny and Grandpa all about it?” Zak asked his mother.

“Of course,” she replied. Zak ran over and wrapped his ten-year-old arms around Madge, planted a kiss on her cheek and shook hands with Al.

“You lot are like dogs,” Al said, “you’ve hardly been gone ten seconds, but you’re greeting us like you’ve been away for days!”

“Weeks, actually, Grandpa. Speaking of dogs, though, where are they?”

“Blessed if I know, Zak. The three of them ran outside as soon as we got up. They’ll be back again when they’re hungry. Meanwhile, tell us about your birthday trip.”

“Well,” Zak began…

I Challenge You To…

Hmm. This week, Esther’s keyword is running…

estherchiltonblog

This week’s challenge is to write a story, limerick or poem on the subject of:

Running

Last week’s theme was television. Here are just a couple of the great pieces you sent in:

Keith Channing sent in a very clever one:

I just bought a new smart TV
Now so many things I can see
There’s Homeland and Bones,
Of course, Game of Thrones
But where do I find BBC?

Please visit MWS R Writing‘s website for something very interesting:

https://mwsrwritings.com/2018/08/02/i-challenge-you-television/

I absolutely love Val Fish‘s:

Mesmerised, unable to speak
I’m feeling decidedly weak
Glued to the telly
Legs turned to jelly
At the sight of Poldark’s physique.

***

running

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