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.
You can see the full story so far at this link.
“Look, Mother,” Alex’s father said, “it’s bloody shimmered again. If there’s no heat source near it, then my name’s not Algernon Alfred Grahamson. We need to keep an eye on this, Mother. Believe me; we need to keep an eye on it.”
“You’re seeing things that aren’t there, again, Father,” Mum replied. “You do it all the time: you see something and immediately jump to a conclusion that’s obvious to you, but no-one else can get it. No-one. That hut has been there since you were a small boy; how come suddenly there’s a heat source. Did you see any heating inside it? No; although how on earth the old man keeps himself warm in winter is beyond me. Perhaps we should let him use our spare room in winter. It’s been empty ever since you-know-what, and there’s no point keeping it as it is any longer.”
“That’s right. Bring that up again,” he complained. “How is it, every time you’re losing an argument, you try to destroy me by reminding me of that? It’s hardly cricket, Mother; it’s not playing the game at all.”
Mr Grahamson stormed out, leaving his wife speechless. He slammed the door behind him, and marched around the lawn, kicking the heads off dandelions.
Just then, Alex stepped out of the shepherd’s hut and walked up to him.
“You okay, Dad?” he asked.
“No, lad, I’m not okay,” his father replied, “Your mother’s been upsetting me again, talking about things we don’t mention.”
“The spare room?”
“It’s not ‘spare’ and you know it. She will come back one day, and when she does, her room will be waiting for her, exactly as it was when you-know-what happened.”
“Why can’t we ever talk about it?” Alex asked. “I’ve never heard you or Mum say anything other than ‘you-know-what’. And I don’t know what! I’m going to go into the room to see for myself.”
“Don’t you dare, my lad,” his father urged, “Don’t you dare go in that room. And don’t meddle in things you don’t understand. I’m warning you.”
Algernon Alfred Grahamson then sat on the garden bench, put his elbows on his knees, rested his head in his hands and started sobbing. Not for the first time, Alex had no idea how to deal with his father’s depressive trait. He knew it had something to do with that room and some events that happened there. Oddly, while his father was sobbing, Alex was half-seeing some confusing images in his mind. Even more oddly, as Alex tried to concentrate on these images and interpret them, his father’s depression deepened and he started to wail. That brought his wife rushing out of the house.
“Alex; what on earth is happening?” she asked, seeing her husband curled into a foetal position on the lawn and wailing in a way she had never known before.
“I don’t know, Mum,” Alex replied. “He said you had upset him talking about ‘you-know-what’ and I just wanted to know what it was.”
“Go in and do your homework, son,” his mother said, “I’ll see what I can do for him.”
Alex didn’t have any homework, but understood what his mother was trying to do, so did as she’d asked. Back in his room, he lay on his bed with his eyes closed, and brought back the half-formed images he had somehow captured from his father’s distraught mind. Was this another ability he had inherited in his bitek genes? Without knowing how he did it, he shielded his mind from all external influence, at the same time preventing any leakage that could exacerbate his father’s already fragile state. To anyone seeing him now, he would appear to be beyond sleep; more like unconsciousness.
Sifting through the images, he was fascinated to learn that his brain was able to enhance what was there, much like crime and military shows on the television, where computers zoom in and enhance the most impossibly vague images. However, what Alex’s mind was achieving in reality; in his reality at least; gave better results than these computers could manage in CGI-based fiction.
Alex lifted his shield, left his room, and went to he garden, where his mother was comforting his father as she would a child who had just injured itself; a soft cooing and a gentle rocking as she cradled him in her arms.
“Finished my homework, Mum,” Alex half-said, half-whispered, “Okay if I go for a chat with Unkie?”
“Okay,” Mum replied, “dinner will be a bit late tonight. Keep your phone on; I’ll ring you.”
Alex ran around the leylandii to find that, of course, Albert was expecting him. The two entered the shepherd’s hut.
“Unkie,” Alex asked, “What do you know about the spare room and the ‘you-know-what’?”
“Not much more than you do, lad,” he said.
“But how do you know what I know? I’ve only just found out myself.”
“I know, we’ve been watching.”
“You’ve been what?”
“Watching. Well, you were broadcasting, and it seemed a shame not to watch it with you.”
“Broadcasting?” Alex complained, “I thought I had shields up.”
“Red alert,” Jarvis injected.
“Shut up, Jarvis,” Alex and Albert shouted in unison.
“And so you were, lad, so you were,” Albert reassured him. “No human, not even an accomplished mind-reader, could have seen it. But we’re not human, are we? Anyway, sit yourself down, and we’ll see if we can fill in any gaps, and explain to you why it is so important that you never breathe a word of this to a living soul.”
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 20 of this collaborative tale.
This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.
This extra episode is in response to this week’s challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com, which asked for a story or poem on one of the following themes: Ghost, Horror, Crime, Romance. I may have used one of these, I’m just not sure which one.
The episode also links with my response to Esther’s challenge last week – “It’s about time, two!“