AN: Well, for me, this is a fast update ;) Hope you enjoy! And please leave a review!
DISCLAIMER: I can but dream.
Not My Grandfather
I love Grandma's house. There's just something about it which feels almost magic. Maybe it's because it's sort of like a time machine, being in the house my dad grew up in. There are pictures of him as a teenager – none of him any younger though, I've always wondered why that is – and some of mum too, and Jake's parents. The house is huge, but not intimidating like it could be – it's really welcoming. That's probably because it's so familiar, but whatever the reason – I love it.
Mum and I walked arm in arm to Grandma's that day, after our talk. Grandma let us in with a beaming smile, hugging us both at the same time – Grandma does a lot of hugging. That's one of my favourite things about her.
"Sarah Jane," Mum said, "Ajay's made her decision."
"She's one of us."
Grandma looked overjoyed. "Then can we take her…?"
Mystified, I followed the two of them up the broad staircase. I couldn't imagine what on earth they were going to show me – I was sure I'd seen everything there was to see of my second home. I was wrong.
We reached the top of the staircase, stood on the landing where there had always been nothing but the doors to the upstairs rooms. Nothing else. Only now…
I gasped. Beside the stair rail we'd just used, there was another flight of steps. Going up. What's more, they were sort of…ghostly. Like they weren't really there: phantom stairs!
Mum saw my shocked expression and took my hand. "It's okay, I know it's weird, but just walk up like you can see them normally. The perception filter's only just been turned off, it won't have fully left yet."
"Perception filter…?" I murmured questioningly, but the thought slipped away as I started the strangest ascent of my life. I put my foot out to where it looked like the first step was, and could feel its solidity, but it still looked like it was made of a cloud. I felt so unsteady – it was the weirdest sensation ever.
Finally we reached the top and there was a single door in front of us. It looked more solid but still slightly surreal. Grandma opened it, an odd look of pride on her face, then stood back, gesturing for me to enter.
…The room I found myself in took my breath away.
It was a vast attic, but not dusty and cobwebby like other people's… it was fantastic. Filled with strange and wonderful things, unfamiliar plants and pulsating lights. Though it wasn't cloudy and not-quite-there like the stairs had been, it was just as unbelievable. For a moment I couldn't speak – I was becoming used to being rendered speechless over the past few days.
"Welcome to the attic," Grandma said, and I spun round to see her and mum standing behind me, both grinning.
"Mum," I said, finally finding my tongue, "You said there was someone you wanted me to meet…"
"Ah yes..." she said, "Sarah Jane – would you like to do the honours?"
Wondering what on earth she could mean but sure I'd find out soon, I followed my grandmother as she strolled further into the attic, down a couple of steps, coming to a stop in front of what appeared to be an ordinary wall.
"Mr Smith? I need you."
I was almost knocked backwards by the sudden gust of wind which seemed to come out of the fast-widening gap in the wall. The bricks themselves came apart to reveal something unlike anything I'd ever seen before…a massive - and I mean humongous -computer screen, tiny lights dancing around the impossibly complicated keyboard which extended out from underneath, covered in levers and buttons aplenty.
"Hello, Alana Jane." It said. "I've been looking forward to meeting you."
Two days ago, if you'd told me that I'd soon be standing in front of an amazing and probably alien supercomputer which spoke and somehow knew my name – and was capable of "meeting" me? – I'd have laughed in your face.
Today I just blinked, and said, "Hello."
"Mr Smith, Alana Jane is now officially one of the team," Grandma announced. "Can you see that the perception filter is removed completely? She had some trouble getting up the stairs."
"Yeah, mum mentioned that before, what's a perception filter?" I asked curiously.
Mum stepped forwards, "It was for your own safety, Ajay – it's a device that filters what you can see – perceive - and what you can't. We used it so you couldn't see the flight of steps leading to the attic so you wouldn't go and investigate."
I made a face. "So it was like…altering my brain?"
"Sort of," Grandma agreed, flicking some switches on the computer's front panels. She turned to look at me. "Sorry."
I shook my head, letting it pass, though it was a strange thing to think about. "So this computer…"
"Mr Smith is a Xylok, a member of an alien crystalline race, renowned in the universe for their incredible knowledge and potential," Grandma explained. "He can do almost anything, technology-wise, hack into any computer system, download information on possible alien threats – makes a rubbish cuppa though."
"'Mr Smith'?" I grinned, "Sounds like he should be my grandfather!"
My mother and grandmother laughed. "I can assure you," the computer intoned in the same calm, smooth voice, "That human pro-creation is not within my –admittedly extensive- capabilities."
"Mr Smith!" Grandma sounded mock-shocked. "That's quite enough of that."
"Quite enough of what?"
A familiar voice made my dad's presence known, and I ran over to where he stood in the doorway of the attic, throwing my arms around him. He hugged me back. "Hello, Alana Jane. Been introduced to the boys?"
"Boys?" I queried.
"Oh, that's right!" Grandma's hand flew to her mouth. "There's someone else you need to meet. K9! Here, boy!"
I was losing the ability to be surprised at anything, I swear. Out from behind a stack of boxes rolled a metal dog on wheels, silver tail waving from side to side in apparent greeting.
"K9, this is Alana Jane!" Grandma exclaimed.
"It is a pleasure, young mistress." The dog said, raising its metal head as if to look at me.
Well, if the computer can talk, who's to say the robot dog can't too.