Albert and Jarvis part 16

a tale in weekly parts

This story is open for suggested continuations. I will publish here, with links to your own blog, all I receive. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) the next episode of this collaborative tale.

The full story so far can be found here.

Episode 16

When they reached the right place and time, Kr’veth’neq’is changed to her default form; what Alex describes as her ‘slug’ shape; and she transported back to the mountain-top.

“We’ll hang around for a while,” Albert said, “this promises to be interesting.”

They watched as Kr’veth’neq’is, unsighted by the two humans, transformed to her human shape and spoke to the Earth pair. The male of the pair moved to hide behind his female. From their vantage point, the reason for the male hiding was immediately obvious to Albert, and the cause of much mirth. If anything, the male’s discomfiture became worse as Kr’veth’neq’is slowly donned her clothes. There wasn’t much to see after that. The three descended the mountain, got into one of the vehicles, and drove off.

“We’re going to refashion the interior en route,” Albert said, “which you would find rather, shall we say, uncomfortable.”

“Can’t I see how it works?” Alex asked.

Albert replied, “Esterkha’a1.”

Alex found a bed and slept.


When Alex awoke, he found himself in a structure that looked quite opulent for a shepherd’s hut, but that left no question that such was its function. The bed on which he awoke was akin to a single divan, rather than the Emperor-sized, super-plush, gravametronic2 berth in which he had dozed off. Alex was aware of his weight on the bed, but it was no less comfortable for that.

“What do you think?” Jarvis intoned.

“Cool,” Alex replied. “Is this it? No other rooms?”

“In this dimension, there is only this one small chamber.”

“And in other dimensions?”

“What needs to exist, exists,” was Jarvis’s cryptic reply.

“So where and when are we now?” Alex wanted to know. “Are we still travelling?”

Albert sat beside the boy and said, “We’re in your garden, lad, behind the leylandii, and we’re about three hours after we left.”

“Brill,” Alex enthused, “That’s long enough to cover me helping my ‘friend’ with his computer. Let’s go get Mum and Dad.”

“I should stay here,” Albert suggested.

“You should come with me,” Alex responded, “I want you and my parents to get on.”

The pair exited the shepherd’s hut through the rickety-looking door at the back.

“Missing you already!” Jarvis said as they left, followed by, “Love you.”

“Can I ask you something, Unkie?” Alex said.

“Of course, lad. What is it?”

“Is Jarvis gay, or what?”

“I heard that!” came a muted shout from behind the laylandii.

“You have to understand, lad, that gay involves sexual preference,” Albert began.

“I get that,” Alex said, “but is he?”

“We are 100% bitek, lad. We have no gender, therefore it is technically impossible to be straight or gay. The word for us would be asexual. Now; ask me if Jarvis is camp, and you’ll get a very different answer.”

“Is he?”



“When it suits him to be camp, he is as camp as Christmas. But bear in mind that what you call camp is often just a man displaying behaviours that you would expect from a woman; just as when you describe a woman as being butch, she is usually just employing  behaviours that you would expect from a man. Jarvis is neither male nor female, so he can’t really be camp, or butch for that matter.”

“So does that mean you’re asexual, too?”

“Of course. I am a manifestation of a part of Jarvis’s total psyche. In human form, I choose to manifest as male, in the same way that Kr’veth’neq’is chooses to manifest as female.”

“This is very confusing, Unkie.”

“Yes, lad, it is, but only because you are over-thinking it. You want my advice?”


“Don’t try to analyse it, just enjoy it. We’re all having a ball. Now; there’s your mum, dead-heading roses, and your dad, walking around and puffing on his pipe, trying to give the impression that there is some purpose to his life.”

“That’s harsh!”

“Agreed. True though.”

“Hi, Dad.”

Alex’s father turned to face his son, a smile on his face, which disappeared as soon as he saw that he was with Albert. His wife left her dead-heading and joined him.

“How long’ve you been home, son?” his father asked.

“Only about half an hour, Dad,” Alex replied.

“Did you get your friend, wassisname—“

“Eldrick, Dad.”

“Yeah.Did you get his computer started?”

“I left him talking with his expert. I expect he’ll be back up and running soon.”

“So what’ve you been up to for the last half hour?”

“Just chatting, Dad. Listen. I’ve managed to persuade Uncle Albert to show you and Mum inside his hut. I know you think it’s dirty and smelly and unhygienic and everything; but it’s not, honest. Uncle Albert is very private about it, but he said it’d be okay for you and Mum to pop in and look around just this once.”

“Is that right, Albert?”

“Yes, Mr Grahamson. Young Alex is right when he says I don’t normally let anyone in – except Alex, of course – but I don’t like to think of you believing I can’t look after myself properly, so I’ll make an exception, just this once.”

Albert was keenly aware that Jarvis needed to be quiet, still and inactive while the Grahamsons looked around; and if Albert was aware of it then, of course, Jarvis was aware of it, too.

“Come on then, son,” Alex’s father said, “let’s go see inside your great-uncle’s hut. You too, Mother.”

“I’m a bit nervous, actually,” his wife said, “I wonder what we’ll see in there. Do you suppose it’s safe for us to go in?”

“The boy’s in there all the time,” Mr Grahamson said, “and he seems to come out okay. Fair enough he comes out with some funny ideas in his head, but that’ll be Albert’s stories, I’ll be bound.”

And so the four walked toward the shepherd’s hut. Albert climbed the three steps and opened the door. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw what was inside…

This story remains open for suggested continuations. All I receive will be published here, with links to your own blog. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) episode 17 of this collaborative tale.

1 You will recall from part 14 that Esterkha’a is a trigger word that Kr’veth’neq’is had planted in Alex’s subconscious during one of their sessions. Meaning ‘relax’ in Arabic, it causes Alex to find a bed and sleep until awakened by another trigger.

2 Perhaps I should explain the properties of a gravametronic bed. It is positioned on the very limit of the dimension in which it sits, and gives its occupant the impression of weightlessness without the inconvenience of floating away. An invention from the 35th century, it will revolutionise sleep when it arrives. Meantime, Jarvis’s special relationship with time means that he has it now. Whatever ‘now’ means.

This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.

Albert and Jarvis part 15

a tale in weekly parts

This story is open for suggested continuations. I will publish here, with links to your own blog, all I receive. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) the next episode of this collaborative tale.

The full story so far can be found here.


Episode 15

Isn’t time a wonderful thing? It’s especially so when one can have a casual, open relationship with it; you know, the kind of relationship where one is free to see other time-lines without fear of recriminations (although we all know that working – fully working – examples of arrangements of this sort are as rare as a benificent dictator).

Such, however, was the relationship Alex enjoyed during his sleep. Not that it mattered how long he slept, before Kr’veth’neq’is woke him with the appropriate trigger-word; a word which we shall never know, since she delivered it using telepathy and Alex didn’t consciously hear it. No, the length of his slumber was and remains totally immaterial. Whilst alone in Jarvis’ temporarily abandoned carapace, Alex was, of course, relative to our perception of time, absent. He was in a kind of stasis where his body was immune from the ageing process, as it is whenever he is with Albert/Jarvis.

He awoke to the sensation of physical contact and the heady scent of a young woman. What a delightful way to regain consciousness that would have been, were Alex a little older and more worldly-wise. As it was, the touch of Kr’veth’neq’is’s hand on his, and the fragrance she emitted, served only to bring him round with the feeling of security that he experienced as a much younger boy when being gently awakened by his mother.

“Oh, hi, Kris,” he said, his voice still croaky with sleep.

“Hi yourself, big boy,” Kr’veth’neq’is replied in a manner more coquettish than Alex knew how to interpret.

“Unkie here?” Alex asked.

“Sure am, lad,” Albert replied.

“And I’m back, too, sleepy-head,” Jarvis chanted, “my, but we’re a regular Rip van Winkle, aren’t we?”

Alex sat bolt upright. “So where’ve you all been, and where’s Jinniskeet?” he asked.

“I’m afraid we’ll not see JK for a while,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “When he faded out, we all sensed a disturbance, and knew that he needed our help. JK’s people have a fabulous technology that allows them to send anything across the galaxy in an instant. They access an inter-dimensional void through a Lagrange point; that’s—”

“I know what a Lagrange point is,” Alex interrupted, “it’s a point in the orbit of one large body around another where a small object can be held stationary by gravity.”

“Yeah. So they get between dimensions there, then come out at another L-point” she explained. “The smart thing is that although travel in the void is only at light-speed, it’s outside normal time so doesn’t count. After 23 years’ travel, JK comes out at the exact moment he went in. How cool is that?”

“That doesn’t explain why you all disappeared.”

“I’m coming to that,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “Someone or something had set up a temporal baffle in the void. When they discovered it, JK’s people pulled him back.”


“And the baffle had to be dismantled.”


“And we had to do it.”

“All three of you?”

“It needed more than any of us individually, and we couldn’t take you in there.”

“Why not?”

“Because we don’t know if your body could handle the forces.”

“So what happened?”

“You’ve seen Albert re-merge into Jarvis. What happened here was that Jarvis merged into Albert, leaving only a small portion of himself behind to control essential functions. To do that, he needed me to merge into him first, then we both merged into Albert and went into the void through the nearest L-point.”

“And how long did that take?” Alex asked.

“The merging was almost instantaneous,” Albert said.

“What about dismantling the baffle?”

“That doesn’t count; it was in void time, not normal time.”

Alex was again becoming impatient. “How… long… was… I… asleep?” he asked.

“You were in stasis, so it has no relevance.”

“How long in Earth time?”

“Oh, for goodness sake, somebody tell him,” Jarvis said, “Alex, my dear, sweet boy. In terms of time as you understand it, you were asleep for a little over six years. Happy now?”

“Six years? SIX BLOODY YEARS?” Alex exclaimed, “So I was ten when you left, and I’m sixteen now; is that what you’re telling me?”

Jarvis was less than impressed with Alex’s reasoning. “Stupid boy,” he said, “Which part of stasis don’t you understand? Have you learned nothing from us? You are not in normal time when you’re here. If you can’t grasp that, perhaps we should dump you back with your mummy and daddy and let you get on with your humdrum, Earth-bound excuse for an existence.”

Alex was fuming. Then he felt a calmness start to creep over him.

“Don’t, Kris,” he shouted. “Sometimes I need to be angry; sometimes I need to feel rage.”

“You do, Alex, it’s true,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, “but I don’t think now is such an occasion. There are fights you’ll need to rise up to, fights you can win and need to win, but this isn’t one of them.”

“Why not?” he asked, the tears forming in his eyes betraying his assumed air of bravado, “why not this one?”

“Because you can’t win it; because you don’t need to win it; and because, if you did but know it, we’re all on your side.” Kr’veth’neq’is gave him a hug and surrounded him with waves of peace and tranquility.

“One thing I don’t understand,” Alex said, once he had calmed down, “How come you didn’t come back out at the same instant you went in?”

“Our relationship with time is too complicated,” Jarvis replied, “and it changes in there. The important thing is that your relationship with time isn’t affected. We can still put you back exactly when we collected you.”

“Which reminds me,” Albert continued, “we should get you back home. You’ve had a lot happen since we left, and you need a couple of days to absorb it all.”

Kr’veth’neq’is said that she would like to go back to the mountain, and re-appear naked in front of the people who had found her clothes, just to see how they would react, so Jarvis headed to the appropriate time and place.

“Unkie,” Alex drawled, “can Jarvis configure the inside to be like the outside? You know, everything looking like a shepherd’s hut that an old man lives in?”

“I don’t see why not,” Albert answered.

“And can it be furnished and set up with mirrors so it will look slightly bigger inside than the outside would suggest? Not actually be bigger, just look it?”

“Wait till we drop Kr’veth’neq’is, and we’ll see what we can do. Anybody have an IKEA catalogue?”

This story remains open for suggested continuations. All I receive will be published here, with links to your own blog. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) episode 16 of this collaborative tale.

This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.

Albert and Jarvis part 14

a tale in weekly parts

This story is open for suggested continuations. I will publish here, with links to your own blog, all I receive. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) the next episode of this collaborative tale.

The full story so far can be found here.


Episode 14

Alex looked around himself in terror. Nothing had changed, not a stick of furniture moved; but no presence, no Albert, no Kr’veth’neq’is, no Jinniskeet and, judging by the stillness and silence, no Jarvis.

“Hello,” Alex called into the emptiness, “Jarvis, you must be here, otherwise I’d be stranded in time somewhen. How can I be in you, if you’re not here?”


“Okay, you’ve got me scared. But, come on, a joke’s a joke but only as long as it’s funny, and this isn’t funny!”

Still nothing.

“JARVIS!” he screamed, and started sobbing.

No reaction from anything or anybody.

Alex was right. Jarvis can’t leave the vessel, Jarvis is the vessel. However, as with everything bitek, it’s not that simple.

Alex sobbed himself out in about ten minutes, then decided to take a look around to see if anybody or anything living was present in any part of this vessel. After exploring all the rooms, he concluded that, for once literally, the lights were on but nobody was at home. What then, was an intellectually superior ten-year old boy to do, alone, he knew not where in space, he knew not when in time?

“If anyone is listening,” he called, “I’m about to explore the control room and see if anything actually works, or if it’s just there for show.”

No response.

He took a seat in the control room, in front of a blank screen and a keyboard. He pressed a few random keys, trying to bring the screen to life. It didn’t. He tried the “three-finger salute” of Control-Alt and Delete which always did something on the family computer at home, though not on his dad’s Macbook, which seemed to resist any of his attempts to do ‘normal’ stuff and which left him baffled, even though his dad bought it because it was supposed to be more ‘intuitive’. That’s a laugh, he thought.

That key sequence had no effect here, either. Having tried most of the various other tricks he knew to bring the machine to life, and having signally failed to achieve that end, he gave up and started looking for something else to do.

More than an hour had passed since everybody had disappeared and he was again becoming anxious. He pulled the mobile phone out of his pocket and looked at it. To say he was surprised to have four bars of signal strength would be a serious under-statement. He dialled home. His father answered.

“Hi, Dad,” he said, “Listen, I’m at a friend’s house—”

“Which friend?”

“Doesn’t matter, Dad.”

“Does to me. Which friend?”

“Eldrick,” he said, pulling a name out of thin air.

“Do I know him?”

“No, he’s new in the area.”

“What does his dad do?”

“He listens when Eldrick wants to ask him something,” Alex said in desperation.

“Okay, Smart-Alex,” his father replied, using the nickname he had dreamed up in one of his moments of envy of his son’s superior intellect, “what do you want to know?”

“Eldrick’s computer is dead and won’t restart. It was okay half an hour ago, but he turned it off and it won’t come back on again. Any ideas what we can try?”

“Is it a PC or a Mac?” his father asked.

“Not sure what it is, Dad,” Alex said, “It’s not a Mac; it doesn’t have those weird Maccy symbols on the control keys, but it doesn’t have a Windows key either, so I don’t know.”

“Put him on, I’ll talk to him.”

“I can’t, Dad; he’s on another call to someone else to try to fix it, but I told him that my Dad knows all there is to know about computers, so we agreed I’d phone you as well.”

“If it’s not a Mac, I can’t help you, son. Good luck.”

“But, hang on, Dad. There must be some things that will be the same whatever the make.”

“Okay. Mains or portable?”


“Unplug it from the power supply, count to fifty, then plug it back in and start it up again. Usually works.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“That’s all I’ve got, son,” his father said, and ended the call.

“Big help,” Alex said, looking at his dead phone.

He looked behind the screen for the power cable and the data feed but found neither. There was nothing connecting the keyboard to anything, but that didn’t surprise Alex; he was familiar with wireless and bluetooth keyboards. On a hunch that these things were just for show, he tried to lift the keyboard off its table. It wouldn’t budge. Looking closely, he saw that it was an integral part of the table. And the screen was part of the wall behind it.

“It’s all bloody window-dressing,” he yelled into the empty chamber, “nothing in here is real.”

In a fit of temper, Alex started kicking the furniture. He only kicked a couple of chairs, though, because each time his foot made contact with one, it dematerialised (the chair, not his foot) and Alex ended up on the floor on his derrière. Fortunately, there was no witness to his loss of dignity. This stopped him from kicking furniture, but it did nothing for his mood. He passed from chamber to chamber looking for something, anything that he could throw, stamp on or otherwise damage or destroy. That he couldn’t identify anything on which to take out his ire served only to worsen his already fragile state of mind.

There were two things of which Alex was blissfully unaware at this time. One was that the bitek gene that gave him mental capacity beyond that of any pure human, dead, living or not yet born, also has a monitoring and control function that comes into play when the levels of excitatory neurotransmitters such as adrenaline in the brain become critical. In essence, when his temper reaches a destructive state, calming neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and GABA are released to restore balance. The second thing he didn’t know is that when this function activates, a signal is broadcast to related bitek units, alerting them of the imbalance. It was this second action that notified Albert/Jarvis of his state, and that resulted in an audible tone emanating from one of the screens in the control room.

Now somewhat calmer, although he knew not why or how, Alex made his way to the control room to investigate the sound. That was when he saw the message on one of the screens. The text was in a medium shade of green on a soft blue background. It read: “All is well, Alex. We will all be back soon and we’ll explain everything. Kr’veth’neq’is says ESTERKHA’A. Press any key to continue.” Alex pressed the space key, which resulted in the message being played in Albert’s voice, except for the last word, which was voiced by Kr’veth’neq’is. Esterkha’a is a trigger word that she had planted in Alex’s subconscious during their earlier sessions. Meaning ‘relax’ in Arabic, it causes Alex to find a bed and sleep until awakened by another trigger.

Alex found a bed and slept.

This story remains open for suggested continuations. All I receive will be published here, with links to your own blog. The one I like best will become (or form the basis for) episode 15 of this collaborative tale.

This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.