a collaborative tale
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.
“We’re gonna need some extra help to do this one,” Jarvis announced.
“Extra help?” Alex asked, “What d’you mean?”
“If your father sees Albert, he’ll have a picture of him, which he’ll recognise when he meets us later. That could cause complications,” Jarvis explained
“Time anomalies?” Alex suggested.
“Not exactly, but something like,” Jarvis said.
“So what’s the plan, then?” Alex asked. “I take it you have a plan.”
“Of course. There’s a unit in your time in the Arabian peninsula. We’ll have her join us, and she’ll accompany you when we arrive then.”
“But can’t Unkie shape-shift and look different?”
“I wish it was that easy,” Jarvis said, “even bitek has limitations.”
“But what if Dad sees me?”
“Because you won’t exist in that time.”
For one so young, Alex was something of a thinker. “So if I won’t exist in that time, how can I do anything to affect Dad?”
“You really don’t understand the nature of time, do you, lad?” Jarvis asked.
“So explain it to me.”
“Humans don’t live long enough for me even to give an executive overview. It’s too complex.”
“Ooh, get her. Ten year old human calls thirty-thousand year old primary bitek a child. Listen, sweety-pants; there are many things you’ll just have to take our word for. Take it on trust. We know things you can’t even imagine. If we say that your father won’t see you, we’d rather you just accept it as a fact.”
“But I want to know,” he said, stamping his foot.
“Don’t be pushy, ducks. The human race is nowhere near that level of understanding yet and won’t be for a long, long time. If ever. If it doesn’t destroy itself before it reaches that stage.” Jarvis paused. “And we know the answer to that, but can’t and won’t tell you, of all humans!”
Alex sensed that he had touched a raw nerve. Realising that, when travelling through space, time and even other dimensions, he was dependent on Jarvis for his continued survival, he said, “Sorry,” followed by, “thank you.”
“Okay,” Jarvis said. “Let’s go pick up Kr’veth’neq’is.”
“Who?” Alex asked.
“Just call her Kris, lad. She’ll be okay with that.”
“Where, when is she?”
“Just at the moment, in your time-frame, she’s on the top of a mountain in the Emirate of Dubai, removing all her clothes.”
“Why’s she doing that?”
“She’s bitek, like us. We can absorb her on a fly-by, but only when she is in her natural form—”
“What, you mean a slug, like Unkie was?”
“If you must, although I think that’s a very formist view. Anyway; we can’t absorb her in human form. Well, we could, but it would be very painful for her, and for us. We’ve known Kr’veth’neq’is for a long time. We know she’s very fussy about her appearance. She’ll have removed all her clothing, and folded and stacked it neatly before morphing to her natural state. Let’s go get her.”
The whole structure that was Jarvis shuddered and shook, and Alex again felt sure he was being turned inside-out. Suddenly, another bitek form appeared in the room.
“Hi, Kr’veth’neq’is!” Jarvis said.
“Marhabtain,” Kr’veth’neq’is replied (in Arabic), then “Oops. Language recognised: English. Variant?”
“British,” Jarvis replied.
“Okay, Jarvis. You want me human?” she asked.
“Of course, sweetie,” Jarvis replied, “our young visitor will be more comfortable.”
“Look away, human,” Kr’veth’neq’is said.
“My name is Alex.”
“Look away, Alex.”
“Because I asked you to.”
It wasn’t what she said, or even the way she said it, that made Alex feel threatened. He just knew, viscerally, that a threat had been issued. When his father showed his dog, a Jack Russell Terrier named Chav, a rolled-up newspaper, the dog always cowered. No-one had ever hit Chav with a newspaper, or anything else for that matter, but the dog somehow sensed that there was danger and that his safest course of action involved total submission to the will of his master. In that moment, Alex knew what his pet experienced at those times, and why he reacted the way he always did. He turned his back on Kr’veth’neq’is, just as she had asked.
“You can look again, now,” the new passenger said to him.
Alex turned, and found himself face-to-face with what, in later years, he would describe as a blisteringly beautiful, stunningly sensual and disarmingly desirable young woman. For now, she was, to this ten-year-old, just a pretty lady; with no need for annoyingly alliterative adverbs. She was wearing beige shorts, a white t-shirt with a logo that looked like it was written in Arabic, and pink flip-flops. A pair of sunglasses was perched on top of her long, honey-blonde hair, and she was carrying a large, fluffy, plain pink beach towel.
“What just happened?” he asked.
“I morphed into human form, silly; what do you think happened?”
“No, I meant why was I so afraid?”
“Neat trick, that, isn’t it?” she said, “I picked that up from a mind-control guru ages ago; can’t even remember, now, where or when it was.”
“Were you going to the beach when Jarvis picked you up?”
“Firstly, Jarvis didn’t ‘pick me up’, as you put it. I asked to come along for the ride.”
“At exactly the moment Jarvis said he needed you?”
“Yeah, well. That’s time for you. You can’t afford to take it so literally. Chickens, eggs, all that sort of thing?”
“So what’s the towel for?”
“No idea. Part of the rules; have to keep a towel with me at all times.” She reached into the back pocket of her shorts and pulled out what looked like a smartphone. “Have to carry this, too,” she said, putting it back.
“Can I see it?”
It was that threat feeling again. Alex knew then, that he would need to be very careful of this particular scary lady.
“You two finished getting to know each other?” asked Albert, who had somehow contrived to appear behind Alex.
“We’re the best of friends,” Kr’veth’neq’is said with a luxurious stretch. “Alex and I will get along just fine, won’t we lad? Is it okay if I call you lad?”
It was that feeling again. Kr’veth’neq’is was smiling broadly; but was it because she was happy that she and Alex would get on, or because she was so elated that he had proven to be so easily controlled by her threat-image?
“Of c-course, K-Kris,” Alex replied, with what he hoped would pass as a smile of sorts.
“So w-what’s going to happen w-when we get then?” he asked, directing his question to Albert.
“Simple, lad,” Albert replied, “Kris will carry you, as I did on our last trip, and make sure you see everything you want to, without putting anything or any-one in danger.”
Alex turned to Albert and whispered, “B-but she scares me, Unkie.”
With that, another wave of nausea and fear passed over him.
“I heard that,” Kr’veth’neq’is said.
“Go easy on the boy, Kr’veth’neq’is,” Albert advised, “he’s young and we’re going to have a lot of adventures together, aren’t we, lad?”
“I h-hope so, Unkie.”
“So I don’t want him broken, okay?”
“Okay, spoilsport,” Kr’veth’neq’is replied; and as she did, a wave of peace and well-being enveloped Alex. For that moment, he felt more secure, cared-for and loved, than he had ever felt before.
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 11 of this collaborative tale.
This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.