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.
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.”
“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.