Updated: Jan 26
Scheduled to be published in 2022, in "Look Back Infinity"
‘Grandad? You’ll talk to anyone, won’t you?’
‘Ah, Sweetie,’ he says and ruffles my curly-top.
He waves and nods and squeaks and chirrups, clicks his fingers and rolls his arrs, as he says. ‘It seems to me, Grandad, that the more alien the person, the better?’
‘Ah, Sweetie,’ he tells me. ‘I’ll chatter away with squidgies, arthrows, repties, pengies—’
‘And I’ve seen you with pescheri… avians… anybody, Grandad.’
‘Oh, yes, Curly, I’m in there with the best of them. Are we having an icrema next?’
‘Sometimes I’m not sure they completely understand you all the time – they look puzzled.’
‘Well,’ he joshed me. ‘That’s the majority of aliens for you, the majority of the time, isn’t it? Are you buying the icrema or am I?’
‘Toss you for it,’ I offered, which means he’s paying.
I asked him once why he did it, ‘It’s like, all the time. Like you’re on a mission.’
‘I am,’ he told me. But he was drunk. It was after my other grandad had died. He said that Grandad Jiack who died was his grandson as well… and he was very sad about not being able to help him. After he hadn’t been able to help great grandad Mychael years before. ‘And I’m no nearer to helping your dad, or you, Curls.’
‘I don’t need any help, Grandad. I’m seven.’
And I’m a tad older than that; two hundred and fourteen,’ he said. He sort of shrugged and smiled and he went to sleep after that.
It was funny in the morning, because he talked about it again – when he hadn’t had a drink. That was unusual. He said he’s trying to find out if anyone has heard of Jimsgone. ‘It’s a planet,’ he says. ‘I want to go there to find why I keep getting older, but no older. And if they can either stop it for me. Or make it happen for all of us.’
‘Grandad!’ I said. I didn’t really know what he meant, but it sounded everso important.
‘I was lost. Been drifting at Light9,’ he told me. ‘Cap, Second and Navvy dead with the radiation accident. My legs were shattered by the explosion, and had radioactive pellets embedded. I wasn’t staying long—’
‘You mean you were dying, Grandad? Ohhh.’ I thought that was awful and it shouldn’t happen to my grandad.
‘Then I found the ship was auto-slowing into an orbit around some planet. I was so far gone I didn’t really care – knew it wouldn’t matter; going to die within days; at best.’
I nearly said, ‘And did you die, Grandad?’ But I didn’t.
I just waited, and he said that some things had come into the ship, ‘Like wraith-people. They came around me and moved in swaying wafts. And I remember they were speaking in my mind. I think I answered – sort of – I was pretty much out of it mostly.’
He gets that twinkle in his eyes when he’s telling stories, but it’s there the rest of the time, too. And his stories are true. Dad said it was because he was remembering it very clearly, as if he was still there.
‘I remember being with them a long time. In snatches; not what I was doing. I was moving round, so I must have had my legs fixed by them—’
‘They’re alright now, Grandad.’
‘Indeed they are, Curly-top. Race you anywhere.’ He always wins. He’s everso fast. And I was only seven then.
‘If you were lost, how did you get back here?’
‘No idea, young lady. Found I was drifting into Erath system space. Alone in the ship. The damage to the ship had been fixed. And I was fit; whole, like I am now.’
‘Grandad!’ I said. I don’t know why I always say that when he’s telling me things, but he says he loves the way I do it. ‘And you haven’t changed since.’ I knew that bit of the story.
‘Hundred and eighty years, and I’m no different.’
‘You’ve always looked the same to me. So where’s your ship?’
‘It wasn’t mine. I was only a sub-officer. The authorities took it. Never been seen or heard of since. I think the fixings the wraith-people did were something totally new. So it’s probably still keeping a box of boffins busy. I couldn’t help them. Virtually all my memory of that time had gone.’
‘Did they wipe it, Grandad?’ I could imagine him being strapped down with gassy aliens radiating his head with all these coloured lights.
He laughed and said he had no idea. ‘But that’s why I have to ask people if they know where Jimsgone is. My time there is a rosy glow in my mind and body. I want to feel it again, and remember this time.’
‘You’ll let me know if you do, Grandad?’
He rubbed my head again, and said, ‘Promise.’ But he had to go then, back to his home.
It must have been about a year after that when he told me he thought he might have a lead on Jimsgone. He was a bit excited, like he gets when he has a new rocket-yacht to play with. Or eats some meal he remembers from a century ago on Mohjecc or Rikkud or Somewhere.
He disappeared a year ago. He visi’d me and said something about thinking he had a lead on Jimsgone. But I could see some men were with him, and they didn’t look good. I thought they were taking him off; knew all about him living forever; and were going to take his blood and muscles and bones and find out how and why he got so old.
I was really sad about that, and I often think about hm and what he might be doing.
Then I got this note yesterday…
Want to live a little longer?
Bring everyone in family to Lift-off Point 4.
2.34.86 at noon.