The story so far
Ten year old Alexander Grahamson was chatting with his great uncle Albert in the garden of the family home. Albert lived in an old shepherd’s hut at the bottom of the grounds.
Albert opened the door to his hut and invited Alex in. As he passed through the door, Alex saw that the hut was much bigger inside than outside, and asked Albert how that worked
“I can’t tell you that, lad,” the old man explained, “and there’s a reason I can’t tell you how it works.”
This story is 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) the next segment of this collaborative tale.
The only response received from episode one came from Moondustwriter, who offered: “Jarvis shuts the door though Albert could blame the wind.Alex gets his first trip of many with Jarvis and uncle Albert“. So…
“Why’s that?“ Alex asked, “Why can’t you tell me how it works?”
“Because I don’t know, lad,” the old man replied, “I don’t know how it works, only that it works.”
“Is this just your front room?” Alex asked having entered the hut, and gazing around a lounge/diner that made the one in his parents’ house look small by comparison.
“Aye, lad.” He pointed to one of the doors of the side of the room, “There’s a kitchen though that door, the blue one. The yellow one beside it goes through to where the bedrooms and bathroom are, and that,” he continued, pointing to a door that owed more to the design of a bank vault than to a living space, “that is the control room.”
“Wow,” Alex breathed as he approached the door that had the appearance of brushed steel, with a large eight-handled wheel at its centre, instead of the simple push-button that served as an opening device on all the others. He tried to turn the handle, but it wouldn’t budge.
“How does it open, Unkie?” he asked.
“Let me show you,” Albert replied, then facing the door, he enunciated clearly, “Jarvis.”
“What now?” came the tetchy response from a disembodied voice.
“Don’t be like that, Jarvis. I just want you to release the control room door.”
“What happened to please?”
“Release the control room door, please,” Albert said sarcastically. “Better?”
“Thank you.” Click
“You can turn the handle now, lad,” Albert said to Alex. “You’ll know what I mean if I say anti-clockwise?”
“Of course, Unkie; I am ten, you know, and I’ve seen vaults being opened on TV loads of times.” With that Alex spun the wheel anti-clockwise. The door opened, revealing a space that looked like it might have been the bridge of a starship.
“Jarvis,” Albert said as the pair entered the control room.
“Yes,” Jarvis snapped, seemingly annoyed at being disturbed again.
“Jarvis, I’d like you to recognise Alex,” then, after a brief pause for effect, “please.”
“Make the child say something so I can register its voice pattern.”
“It is a he. Alex is a human child and deserves the same respect as all other humans, Jarvis.”
“Which, incidentally, is not very much at all, if you want my opinion, which you clearly don’t!”
“Will you two stop arguing?” Alex demanded, “You’re sounding like an old married couple who only stay together for the sake of the children.” And with that, the boy started crying.
“Oh, Alex. Is that what’s happening?” Albert asked, “I thought there was something wrong, but couldn’t be certain what it was.”
“I heard Dad telling Mum that if it weren’t for me, he could be free to live the life he wanted, and not tied to her. They don’t know I heard it and I don’t want them to,” Alex sobbed.
“Okay. I’ve heard enough,” Jarvis said, “the child can stop talking now.”
“Jarvis, you are so insensitive at times,” Albert chastised.
“I’m insensitive. That’s rich, coming from you, love. Since when do you ever give a monkeys about my needs, my feelings, eh? Answer me that, if you can.”
“Shut up, both of you,” Alex screamed. “You’re no better than my parents.”
With that, Alex and his great-uncle heard a door slam.
“And that’s what happens next. Dad goes out in a huff, and Mum comes and shouts at me. So who’s stormed out in a temper now?”
“No-one,” Albert replied, “Jarvis; what was that?”
“Who knows?” Jarvis responded, “Might have been the wind blowing the outer door closed. Did you leave it open again?”
The pair left the control room and crossed the lounge toward the outer door. Albert pressed the button and tried to open it. It didn’t budge.
“Jarvis; open the outer door, please.”
“What do you mean, shan’t. I said please, for Christ’s sake.”
“Open the door, then.”
“Because I want to take the child on a trip, away from the negative influence of this place with all its tensions and bitterness.”
“You do have a human side, then?” Alex asked.
“Don’t insult me, please,” Jarvis said, “How would you like it if I suggested you have a cockroach side?”
“But a cockroach is a nasty little pest with no intelligence at all.”
“My point precisely. And yet it survives and breeds.”
“So,” Alex suggested, “you think you are as much better than me and Unkie as us and a cockroach.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“I never said Albert and you; just you. Anyway; take a seat in the control room, we’re going on a trip.”
Alex looked around and saw, through the open door, that Albert was already seated in the control room. He was facing a screen and typing something on a keyboard.
“Come on, lad. Sit down, we’re going on a trip.”
“Where to, Unkie?”
“Not where to, lad, when to,” Albert said, “and all will become clear when we arrive.”
The control room door closed, the lights dimmed, and a low hum came from the console area.
“How long will it take?” Alex asked.
“Good question, lad,” Albert replied. “Time is a funny thing. If we go a hundred years into the future, we could say it takes a hundred years, but it might only feel like an hour or so. If we go back in time, it’s even more weird.”
“So, if we go a hundred years into the future, then come back, will I have got any older?”
“Only by as long as you’re away,” he explained. “If we’re away for a month, then come back to the same time as we left, you will be a month older, but no time will have passed here. That can be tricky. For instance, your hair will have grown for a month, but your parents will think you’ve only been gone for a couple of minutes. Have to be careful.”
They lapsed into silence as the old man manipulated Jarvis’s controls to keep the flight smooth and direct.
After some minutes, Alex asked, “How long have you had Jarvis, Unkie?”
“Oh, a long time,” he replied, “a heck of a long time.”
“And where did you live before you had him?”
“Do you know, lad, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have him. I don’t know how I found him or came by him. What I told you about the Doctor Who connection isn’t strictly true. I watched some of that series on your Dad’s parents’ television, and saw that his TARDIS was a lot like Jarvis, so used that as my story.”
“What Albert is trying to tell you,” came Jarvis’s voice from the console, “is that he and I are one.”
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 3 of this collaborative tale.
This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.