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.
Arriving back in the house, Xander called out, “I’m back, Mum.”
“That was quick,” his mother replied as he walked into the kitchen, where she was preparing dinner, “did you find out what you needed from Albert?”
“He didn’t know either, Mum,” he said, “but according to the news on the radio, a government team is supposed to be coming here to investigate them.”
“That’ll be a bit of excitement for the area. We don’t get much excitement around here. I wonder what they’ll find.”
“The way these experts usually talk, it’ll probably sound like something out of a science fiction story,” Xander said, as the front door opened and his father entered.
“What’ll sound like something from a science fiction story?” he asked.
“Hello, Dear; thanks for coming home on time,” his mother said before Xander could respond.
“Oh, sorry. Hello, love,” Dad said, “I were so interested in what the lad were saying, that I clean forgot my manners.”
“I’ll let you off just this once,” his wife said as she leaned over to give him a hasty kiss on his cheek.
“Don’t keep me hanging, son. What is it?”
“There’ve been a couple of earth tremors lately—”
“I know, lad; I’ve felt them.”
“According to the news, some government scientists are coming to investigate them.”
“Ooh,” father said, “that’ll bring some excitement.”
“Exactly what I said, Father. What did I say, Alex?”
“You said it would bring some excitement to the area, Mum, and Xander, remember?”
“Sorry, son. I’ll get used to it, just give me time.”
The doorbell rang. Xander’s mother went to the front door and opened it to see who was calling. It was, of course, Kr’veth’neq’is. As his mother opened the door, Xander received from Kr’veth’neq’is a very strong instruction to say nothing, but follow her lead.
“Hello; can I help you?” Mrs Grahamson asked the stranger at the door. As she did, as well as a predisposition to believe whatever the young woman said to her, she experienced an overpowering sensation of peace and well-being, as did her husband, who had, by then, stationed himself in front of the family television and taken possession of its remote controller. “Your face looks familiar; should I know you?”
“Perhaps. Can I come in, please?” Kr’veth’neq’is asked, “There is something I need to talk about, that involves the whole family.”
“Are you selling something?”
“No, I’m not. Neither am I recruiting you for anything, soliciting donations for anything, or asking you to join anything. I just need to talk to you. All of you. May I?”
“If you must,” she said, without understanding why, “Follow me.” As the pair entered the lounge, she said, “Father, Alex… sorry… Xander,” then turning to her visitor, “he’s just changed his name, you know.” Kr’veth’neq’is smiled. “We’ve a visitor who wants to tell us all something important.” Another change of direction, “You’re not a Jehovah’s Witness, are you?”
“Oh no, ma’am,” or it might have been Mum, “nothing like that.”
“So what is it,” her husband asked in a non-combative, non-challenging way.
“Can I ask you one thing before I start? However difficult it is for you, could you hear me out before asking any questions, please?”
“We can try,” Xander’s mother confirmed.
“Okay. Let me start by telling you who I am. My name is Kr’veth’neq’is. I am mostly human—”
“Father!” his wife chided.
“Sorry. Go on.”
“Thank you. The other part of me, the part that isn’t human, is the result of many centuries’ research into bitek, that’s a branch of biotechnology that aims, by fusing biological matter and technology—”
“So you’re half-robot?”
“Father! Let the girl say her piece.”
“It’s okay, ma’am,” or was it Mum? “It’s a fair question; but that’s not it at all. If you remember the Six Million Dollar man programmes, you’re part-way there. If you then think about modern prosthetics, you’re moving closer, but it’s much, much more than that. Bitek produces, in effect, a sentient machine, although even the word machine is inadequate. Bitek entities can be fully human, even when DNA-tested. Your Uncle Albert, for example, is 100% bitek. Have you never wondered why he appears to be the same age now as he was when you were a boy?”
“I can’t say I’ve ever thought about it, but now you mention it. How does he do that?”
“That’s just the way he appears when he takes human form.”
“So can he take other forms?”
“Can you make us all some tea, Xander? I think your mum and dad will need it after what I tell them next **and take your time; it’ll go better if you aren’t here for this part**.”
“Okay,” Xander said, going back into the kitchen.
Kr’veth’neq’is continued, “Yes, he can take other forms and does so regularly during his travels. It’s the nature of bitek to take whatever form is appropriate at the time. This will come as a shock to you both, and there’s no easy way to say it, but Albert is your father, Mr Grahamson.”
“You what? My father is a machine? I don’t believe you.”
“It’s true, I’m afraid. When Albert takes human form, he becomes, effectively, pure human, in every respect.”
“So he can father children?”
“You are proof of that. And in that, you are unique. I know this is going to sound terrible, but believe me, there is nothing sinister about it, no plots or plans; you were something of an experiment, an experiment to find out whether bitek constructs could pass any of their abilities to biological species.”
“Nothing. If we were to scan your brain today, I believe the picture would show you to be a pure, unenhanced, perfect, absolutely normal human specimen.”
“So that’s it? Why are you going to the trouble of telling us, then. We’ve learned nothing from what you’ve said so far, except you’ve suggested that my mother was unfaithful to my father.”
“Mr Grahamson. You have had two children, yes?”
“Anything different or unusual about either of them?”
“They’re both exceptionally smart, but nothing else.”
“Are you sure?”
“I think so.”
“What if I tell you that a scan of your son Xander’s brain will show that he has a significant bitek component, and that his exceptional mental abilities are due almost entirely to that.”
“You mean he’s been got at?”
“Not at all. He inherited it from you; similar to what you might call a regressive gene.”
“So he’s part, what d’you call it, bitek?”
“Absolutely. And so is your daughter.”
“Don’t you bring Alice into this,” he said angrily. “Don’t you dare bring my Alice into this.”
“What happened to Alice?”
“We don’t know,” his wife said before he could express his grief afresh.
“Well, I do,” Kr’veth’neq’is said. “I know exactly what happened to Alice.”
“How do you know?” he wanted to know, then, “What happened to her?”
“I had to leave,” Kr’veth’neq’is said. “I’m Alice.”
“What…? why…? where…?”
“It was too painful for me. I couldn’t learn how to live with people who weren’t like me, because there was no-one to teach me. I had no friends at school; they all picked on me, excluded me from their groups, resented that I could answer questions that stumped even the teachers; and at home, I couldn’t ask for help, because no-one knew or understood more than I did. I ended up explaining stuff to you, my parents, that you should have been explaining to me. Xander is the same, but he won’t need to leave, because there is someone to teach him.”
“Who? Albert? Why couldn’t he teach you? I can’t believe I’m saying this. I can’t believe you’re my Alice, back after all these years. How do I know you’re not an imposter?”
“One thing at a time, Dad. Albert couldn’t teach me how to deal with my frustrations and fears because he didn’t know. He knows better now, since I shared my experiences with him, and he is helping Xander. I am helping my little brother, too. As for proof of who I am, try this.”
He suddenly saw Alice in the room with him, still a girl of six, wearing the dressing gown he had bought her the previous Christmas.
“Yes, Daddy, its me; Alice,” Kr’veth’neq’is said, slowly morphing back to her current age and dress.
Her parents finally started to believe her story and accept who she was, and who she had become. When Xander, on her signal, brought in a tray of tea and biscuits, Kr’veth’neq’is began explaining in detail what she and Xander were experiencing both at the human and bitek levels, the difficulties and challenges, unique to them, that it presented, and the benefits and abilities it offered.
By the time she had finished, their parents knew as much as they did (or, at least, as much as it was prudent to let them know) and, because of the way Kr’veth’neq’is had prepared their minds; something that they did not know about, neither would they ever find out; information they would never knowingly divulge to anyone else.
Finally, while finishing off the last of the biscuits, her father asked, “So all those times you what-I-call shimmered, you were somehow moving in and out of time?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes.”
“In that case, how come the shepherd’s hut shimmered recently?”
“What you think of as the shepherd’s hut is a bitek construct called Jarvis.”
“Bitek construct? Jarvis? Am I having this conversation?”
“Yes, Javis; And Albert is a part of Jarvis.”
“I really don’t understand that,” he complained.
“You don’t need to, Dad,” Xander said, “just believe that it’s the way it is. Take it on faith, so to speak.”
“You sure you aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses?” his mother asked with a wry smile.
“I can see why you’d think that, Mum, being asked to simply believe things without any evidence; things that just don’t add up; but no. We’re not.”
“So what if I go to the papers with all this?” his father asked, “They’ll pay a fortune for it. Alien invasions; they love that stuff.”
“No they won’t, because you’ll have no evidence,” Kr’veth’neq’is said.
“Of course I will. I’ve seen it.”
“You think? You’ve been inside the shepherd’s hut. Notice anything unusual about it?”
“And neither will the press.”
“What about these tremors? Anything to do with you?”
“Just unconstrained bitek laughter.”
“The government scientists will soon find you out. They’re not dummies. You don’t get to be a government scientist unless you’re pretty smart, you know.”
“Not without another incident, they won’t.”
“And there won’t be another incident, will there?” he asked in a resigned tone.
“No.” Kr’veth’neq’is replied.
“Okay,” her mother said, “I’ve heard enough. We’ll be fine with it all, won’t we, Father? We know that our daughter we thought dead is alive, that you are well, and that you are safe. That’s enough for us for the moment. Will you be staying long?”
“I move about quite a lot, Mum and Dad, but if you need me at any time, just ask Xander to call me. We have a mental link, and he can get in touch at any time. I can’t say for sure that I’ll always come right away, but if I can’t, not only will there be a good reason, but I’ll tell Xander what the reason is.”
“One other thing, love?” her father asked.
“What’s that, Dad?”
“What do we call you. We can’t manage the name you gave us when you came in.”
“Call me Kris, that’ll be fine.”
“Can’t we call you by your real name; Alice?” mother asked.
“That’s not who I am any more, Mum. Alice was a frightened, confused little girl; knowing she was different but thinking it was a bad thing and that it was her fault. Kr’veth’neq’is; Kris; is a confident and powerful young woman, proud of who she is, proud of her Grahamson heritage and proud of the abilities her bitek part gives her.”
“Kris it is, then,” mother confirmed.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m afraid I really must be off.”
“Do you have to leave us already? So soon after finding each other again?” father asked plaintively.
“Xander knows how to reach me,” she said, “any time. Just let him know.”
Once again, like all those years ago, where once stood their first-born, there was now nothing more than two footprints in the carpet.
“Dinner ready, Mrs Grahamson?”
“Momentarily, Mr Grahamson, momentarily,” his wife replied, “although how you will eat it after all the biscuits you’ve just put away is a mystery to me.”
“What’s one more mystery, today of all days?”
Is this the end of the saga, or just the end of the beginning? Do more adventures await the Grahamson children? Will any of these involve either or both of their parents? And what of Chav, their Jack Russell Terrier? Let me have your thoughts. 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 25 of this collaborative tale; if, indeed, there is an episode 25…
This story was started in response to Kreative Kue 18, issued on this site on 30 March 2015.