a tale in weekly parts
Leaving Alex’s bedroom, the siblings found Albert at the top of the stairs, waiting for them.
“What have you done, Kr’veth’neq’is? I can’t sense your presence,” he said.
“Kr’veth’neq’is no longer exists, Albert. I am Alice,” she replied, “What have we done? We have undone your locking of our permission circuits and closed you out. We have also undone our ties with the Eddies. We are now, as far as we can be, normal human beings.”
“Is that right, Xander?” he asked, turning to Alex.
“Alex, please, Albert. Yes, that is right. Alice is no longer pregnant; your experiment is over.”
“But I have been a part of your family since before your father was born. I’m your grandfather, for goodness’ sake. You can’t just shut me out.”
“Can and have,” Alice said. “You can still be part of this family, but not inside our heads. You can be a visitor, a treasured guest, but not a controller.”
“But what of your enhancements?”
“Except for those that improve intellect and memory,” Alex said, “they’re all gone.”
“And the Eddies allowed that?”
“I think you underestimate their collective intelligence. They left us before we had verbalised our intention.”
“This is important work. The possibilities of human/bitek hybrids must be fully explored. I cannot and will not permit you to endanger our work.
“I don’t see that you have any choice.”
“Don’t think we’re going to let you go without a fight,” Albert said.
“Is that a threat?”
“I’ll move you back in time to before you made this stupid decision.”
“Can’t. No Eddies.”
“I can hold on to you and drag you back with me.”
Alex turned to Alice and whispered, “Can he do that?”
“Don’t know,” she replied.
Albert tried to grab the pair, but couldn’t establish a grip on them. He phased out alone.
“What just happened?” Alex asked.
“Must have been the Eddies. Maybe some of them hung around to protect us from Albert’s attempts to get us back. Let’s go and see Mum and Dad.”
Unexpectedly, Al was waiting for them in the hallway.
“Did something just happen?” he asked his children, “I feel different.”
“Different how?” Alice asked.
“I don’t know. I somehow felt, just for a second, alone. It was as though an old friend had just left me.”
Alex and Alice explained their decision and its consequences to their father, and told him of their subsequent conversation with Albert.
“So he couldn’t drag you away?”
“No,” Alice said.
“And that was these… Eddies. The same things that let you do time-travel.”
“We think so.”
“So where do we go from here?” he asked.
“We want to go back to being who we were before all this stuff started, Dad. I don’t think I can go back to school, though,” Alice said, “I’ve been away too long, and besides, I know more about most things than the teachers do.”
“Leave that with me,” Al said to her, “I’ll see if I can get you classed as home-schooled, so you can take A-levels. Then you can choose what university courses you’d like to follow.” Turning to Alex, he asked, “How about you, young man?”
“Can you call me Alex again, Dad?” he said, “Can I switch to humanities at school? Maths and sciences bore me. Alice and I know stuff that hasn’t been discovered yet, so there’s nothing they can teach me there.”
“Fair enough, Son. I’ll explain everything to your mother. Welcome back, both of you,” Al said. “I’d better find your mother and break this to her. You two stay here until I have, okay?”
“Okay, Dad,” Alice said.
Chav and Ixus came rushing in excitedly, having sensed the youngsters’ presence. Alex sent them a brief summary of what had changed, at which they both rolled onto their backs for a tummy tickle.
Some minutes later, Al came back in and announced, “Your mother is okay with everything. I’ve left her making arrangements.”
“For a holiday. We’re all going off on a holiday. We’ll drive to Dover and get on a ferry to France. We’re going to go camping for a couple of weeks. Our first proper family holiday for too many years.”
Alice and Alex signified their approval of this arrangement.
“It won’t be as quick as your way,” he said, “we can’t just shimmer there; but it’ll be a proper holiday, like a proper family.”
“And that’s exactly what we need,” Alex said.
THE END ?