“Er, Peter, mind giving us a hand with this trunk?
” called Andrew as his twin ambled along the path leading to their childhood home. “Oh, sorry,” replied Peter as he turned round and made his way back to the gate. The Harrison twins were back home for a long weekend. Their father had arranged to take their mother away to Simmouth for a few days in order to try to cheer her up after her precious laptop, the one thing she had brought over from her home mini-verse, had broken. Since this would mean leaving their daughter, Celestia, at home, their sons had been summoned back to Regalton to look after her.
“Helloo, we are home!” shouted Peter as he unceremoniously dumped his end of the trunk on the floor. Andrew sighed and shook his head as he struggled to move the trunk against the wall. Perhaps he shouldn’t have brought all of those books home after all.
There was a clatter of boots on stairs, and their sister burst into the hall. “Hello! Oh it is so good to see you both,” she smiled as she hugged each of her brothers in turn.
Andrew frowned slightly as she stood back. “Have you grown even more? I swear you are now near enough the same height as me.” Celly laughed. “Yes, shorty, I have. Sorry, there is not much I can do about it.”
Theo entered the hall at that moment from the kitchen. “Thank you for coming home for the weekend boys,” he said as he greeted his sons. “How are you finding your courses? Has the food improved at the halls? How is the rowing going?” “Interesting.” “You mean that slop they are serving up in the dining room is meant to be food?” “Good, it is nice to find something I am really good at.” The boys talked over each other as they answered him.
“Where is Mom?” asked Peter. “Upstairs, making sure everything is packed before the carriage gets here to take us to the station. She is...not her usual self at the moment. Her laptop was the only thing she brought with her from her home, and it meant a lot to her.” The two boys looked pained at their father’s words. Not one of them knew exactly what a “laptop” was, Doc had been very careful not to flaunt her anachronistic contraption to the family, and besides she knew that the boys would only find some way to break it, but they knew how much it meant to her.
They made their way into the drawing room, just as Doc came down the stairs. “My babies.” She said, with a wan smile, making her way over to them. “Hardly babies any more Mom,” pointed out Andrew. “Oh you will always be my babies, even when you are old and grey,” she said hugging him.
“The trunk is packed Theo. Can you bring it down?” she aid as she noticed her husband had followed her children into the room. Her husband nodded. “Andrew, can you help me bring it down to the hall?” Andrew grunted but nodded. “Of course Father.”
Ten minutes later, the family was in the hall, Andrew (and Peter with a little prodding), having loaded the trunk into the waiting carriage. Theo said goodbye to his sons. “Look after your sister. If that Futa boy comes sniffing around, make sure he knows that you two are more than willing to carry out the threats I have made about his person. The same goes for the Wade boy, and Livingston boy. Really, they are paying your sister far too much attention for my liking.” “Do not worry Father,” replied Andrew grimly, “we will.”
Doc, meanwhile was saying goodbye to her daughter. “Make sure your brothers eat properly, I know what they are like, oh and make sure they don’t burn the house down. As I say, I know what they are like.” “Of course Mom. Now go and have fun, Simmouth sounds nice.”
The three Harrison children waved their parents off as the carriage clattered down the road, towards the Simford road.
“So,” said Andrew as the coach turned the corner. There was something he had been thinking about ever since he had received his father’s message. “Fancy finding out what a laptop is, and how we can fix it?” “Are you serious?” asked Celly. “Deadly.” “But we have never been allowed near it,” pointed out Peter. “We do not even know what it does.”
“I think that Mom was worried that one of you would break it,” said Celly. “See! And we probably would have,” replied Peter.
“So? It is already broken, we cannot break it any more can we?” asked Andrew, ignoring the sceptical look on his siblings faces. Both Peter and Celestia were pretty sure that yes, they could break it more. “I just want to take a look at it, see if maybe it can be repaired.” Andrew headed back into the house, leaving his siblings to trail after him.
They followed him up to their parents bedroom, where they found a plain looking rectangular block on their mother’s dressing table. “This must be it,” said Andrew, pulling out the chair and sitting down.
“Andrew, don’t.” said Peter, but his twin was already running his fingers along the case. He found the catch at the front and opened it up.
“Oh, but it looks just like a typewriter,” he exclaimed slightly disappointed. He picked it up and looked underneath it. “Yet I do not see where the paper goes for the writing to appear.” “I think it appears on the lid,” said Celly. “I have seen Mom looking at moving pictures on it too.”
“Do not be silly Celly,” scoffed Peter, “pictures do not move.” Andrew just stared at her. “You have seen Mom use this?”
“Of course. It was you two that she didn’t trust to go anywhere near it, not me.” Andrew shook his head. “Celestia, you are very unexpected.” “I know,” she replied, “I am like the Spanish Inquisition.”
Peter’s brow furrowed at this. “How on earth can you be like the Spanish Inquisition? It was a time of torture and intolerance, whereas you are a lovely young lady.”
Celestia sighed. “It was a joke Mom shared with me. Where she is from there are a group of comedians who performed skits, like the ones we have been to see at the Paladium in Simdon The Spanish Inquisition was a running joke, since they would jump out shouting ‘nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition...’” she trailed off at the blank look her brothers were giving her. “Never mind.”
Andrew shook his head and turned his attention back to the laptop. “Hmm, well if this is a glorified typewriter, then I might be able to do something with it after all. I wonder...”He turned it over and looked at the screws holding the case together. “Ah, it comes apart. Peter go and fetch me Grandpapa’s toolkit will you?” “You are not thinking about taking it to bits here are you? In Mom and Papa’s bedroom?” asked Celly incredulously. “Hmm, perhaps not.” Andrew tucked the laptop under his arm and headed out of the room and down to the basement.
It was ten minutes before Peter joined him. He and Celestia had been discussing what to do. It was unlikely that Andrew was going to take any notice of their requests that he desist fiddling with the laptop, and the only person they could think of who he would listen to was their Grandmama Enid, and she was on holiday in Simwell with their Aunt Louisa and her family. That meant that the best they could hope was to make sure that Andrew didn’t do too much extra damage. As Peter looked at the bench, strewn with laptop innards, he realised that he was too late. “What have you done?”
“I had to take it apart to see where it is broken,” explained Andrew, concentrating on a part in front of him. “And have you?”
“No, but look,” Andrew pointed at a symbol on one of the components on the bench, and Peter obediently walked round to have a look. “It appears to work via electricity, and if there is one thing I know, it is electricity. I have been studying the works of Faraday, intensively.” “Yes, I know you do,” replied Peter dryly, thinking about the times his twin had come home from the physics department, looking more than a little singed and frazzled. “Look, I am certain that Father will have looked at this too, and if he cannot get it working, why do you think you will?”
Andrew waved his hand dismissively. “Father is an astronomer. If this thing was powered by the movements of the planets, then I am certain he would have the knowledge to make it work again, however it is not. I am a physicist and a chemist and a damn good one at that. I am the only one in this family capable of making this work again.” He spoke without ego, simply stating what he knew to be true. Peter still looked worried. “If you say so.” “I do, and I may need your help at some point.” Peter nodded. “Very well.”
When he got up from the cellar, Celestia was waiting for him. “Well?” “It is in bits. Andrew is convinced he can fix it.” “But you are not?” “I...have faith in my twin,” said Peter after a pause. “Yes. I will make him a pot of tea,” replied Celestia eventually.
With a constant supply of tea, thanks to his sister, and a glass or two of beer, thanks to his brother, Andrew spent the rest of the day poking around in the innards of the computer, trying to understand it and how it worked. The more he thought about it, the more excited he became and by the time his siblings dragged him up the stairs to bed at well gone midnight, he was convinced that, not only could he fix it, but he knew exactly how to go about doing so.
It was late evening by the time Theo and Doc arrived in Simmouth and checked into their hotel room. “Ah, this place has not changed since our honeymoon,” said Theo, stretching out on the bed. “No,” mused Doc, “I would have thought that hotel rooms would be reset after a family leaves, but this one doesn’t appear to have.” “What was that my love?” “Nothing,” she settled next to her husband.
“Thank you Theo, it was a nice of you to arrange this.” “My pleasure my love. You must know that I hate to see you upset, and I hoped that this would cheer you slightly.” “It has, my nummy Theo,” she snuggled up against him as she spoke. “So, what do you think,” he said, stroking her hair, “dinner, and then retire to bed?” “Do we have to eat?”
Peter blinked his eyes open at an obscene hour, as he became aware of movement and the fact that an oil lamp had been lit in the room. “You are awake already?” he asked groggily as he spied the figure of his brother bent low over the desk.
“I am! I know exactly what I am doing now, (and I will need your help), and I need to get to Simdon to purchase a few things.” He snatched a sheaf of paper up off of the desk and headed to the door. “Well, you cannot go now,” said Peter stifling a yawn.
“Why ever not?” “One, you are not dressed and two, it is silly o’clock in the morning. No where will be open.”
“Damn,” exclaimed Andrew, sitting on the edge of Peter’s bed. “Why can time not go faster when we require it to?” “You are the physicist, you tell me.”
Time did eventually tick round to a decent hour, and Peter and Andrew made their way to Simdon as soon as they could. Once there, Andrew dragged his brother around shop after shop, making sure that for once, he wasn’t the one left carrying everything.
It was gone noon when they arrived home, Andrew grumbling about how he had lost most of the day, but still happy with what they had managed to buy. “Is that Stuart?” he asked, as he noticed a brunet figure knocking on their front door. Peter finished paying the coachman and looked over at the house. “No, there is no way he would be wearing anything as tatty as that top.”
The boy turned at the sound of their shoes on the path, and now that they could see his face, they could see he wasn’t their cousin. “Hello,” he said as they got approached him, “I was hoping to visit upon Miss Harrison if she is in.”
The brothers exchanged a look. ”And you are?” asked Peter. “Alvin Futa,” he replied, holding out his hand. “Ah, Master Futa, our father told us that you might call,” said Peter with a smile. “He also told us what he last said to you, and have no fear, we are quite capable of carrying that out in his stead,” added Andrew, also with a smile.
Alvin looked from brother to brother, suddenly realising that their smiles were in fact far from friendly. “Ah, I take it she is out then. I will endeavour to call at another juncture,” he stuttered before rushing past them and out the gate.
The two brothers shook their heads as they watched him dash up the road. “You do realise, that was much more fun than I had expected,” said Peter. “You are far too much of a wuss at times Peter,” replied his twin. “I cannot help it, I do not think that violence is the answer,” Peter smiled benignly as he spoke. “No, but sometimes it can factor into the calculation. Now help me bring this stuff in.”
As he put his hand out to open the door, he found it opened for him by his sister. “Did you enjoy scaring off Master Futa?” “Father said he’s been bothering you,” replied Andrew, ignoring the question. “Not exactly bothering, although he is bit of a pest At least he isn’t too handy for his own good like Master Livingston used to be, before he sadly broke several fingers. I am capable of taking care of myself you know.” “Yes, but Peter and I would be failing in our brotherly duty if we did not look out for you, not to mention Father would have out hides if we didn’t Now is there a pot of tea on the go? I am parched,” Andrew pushed past her into the house, leaving Peter to bring their purchases down to the basement.
With everything spread out before him, and a large pot of freshly brewed tea at his elbow, Andrew started on his plan.
Despite the fact that both Theo and Doc would quite liked to have spent the entire day in bed, they had eventually risen and breakfasted, before strolling along the front, taking tea in the tearooms, eating at one of the fish stalls and shopping for souvenirs in the shops that lined it.
Peter had gone to take his brother some dinner, since he refused to stop work to eat with his siblings in the dining room. Despite himself he found that he was intrigued by what Andrew was doing, and said so. “Oh, this is just preliminary work,” Andrew said with a distracted wave of his hand. “I’m about to start the real work though, and for that I will require your assistance.” “So you keep saying,” replied Peter, but this time he wasn’t as vehemently worried about what his twin was doing, after all their mother’s laptop was in bits now, no matter what happened, so perhaps it would be good to try to put it back together.
He pointed to an object on the bench. “What is that?” “Ah, I call it the Hard-platter Device. I believe it to be an important part of the “laptop,” and that it is meant to rotate. However it is not doing so at present. This is the main defect I am going to correct, as well as making a number of improvements,” explained Andrew. “Oh. Right. Well, shout when you need me.”
“Do not go far, I will need you for the next bit,” said Andrew, shovelling food into his mouth. Peter had been about to leave, but now he stayed at his brother’s side. “You will?” Andrew nodded and Peter noticed that he had almost cleared his plate. “I cannot do the rest of this by myself.” He finished his meal and put his plate to one side, before pushing up his sleeves. “Ready?”
It was gone midnight when Celestia made her way down to the basement, where she had heard banging and all sorts coming from for most of the night. “Come on you two, I am trying to get to sleep, and even in my room on the top floor, I can hear you crashing about. Go to bed.” “Just one more...” started Andrew, and even Peter looked disappointed. He was actually enjoying helping his twin very much, even if he didn’t exactly understand what he was doing. “No, bed now,” replied Celly firmly. “I am tired, and I want to get some rest.”
Reluctantly, Andrew put down his tools, and the two brothers filed past their younger sister and up the stairs on their way to bed.
The two of them were up early the next morning though. They both knew that they had limited time if they were get the repairs finished before their parents arrived home, and were anxious to get on.
Celestia was performing her daily ballet exercises when she heard the banging start up from the cellar again. She glanced at the clock and gave a wry smile. It was half past six, and although she did think about going downstairs and berating her brothers, she decided that she didn’t really have the heart to do so. Instead she concentrated once more on her plie.
For the entire morning, the Harrison twins kept busy building. It was true that some things went better than others, but for the most part, it looked very much as if they were going to be finished on time.
While their sons were working hard in the basement, Theo and Doc were packing their trunk in preparation for their departure from Simmouth. They had dined the previous night at one of the best restaurants in Simmouth, which also had the advantage of being on the sea front. That morning had been spent at the spa, where they had both enjoyed the relaxing treatments there.
They had then spent an hour or so at the Botanical Gardens before heading back to the hotel once they’d tired of the rain.
Doc slipped her arms around her husband. “Thank you for this weekend Theo, it has really cheered me up.” “You are very welcome. I hate to see you so down in the dumps.” As he bent down to kiss her, there was a knock at the door. Theo sighed and straightened up. “Yes.”
The door opened to admit a bellhop. “The carriage is here to take you and Mrs Harrison to the station sir.” “Thank you, if you could take the trunk,” Theo pointed at it and waited while the bellhop took it out.
Once they were alone once more, Theo bent down and kissed his wife. “I will go and settle the bill, and then we should go.” Doc nodded. “I guess.”
As their parents were finishing their journey by train, Andrew and Peter were putting the finishing touches to their creation. “Are you certain that this will work?” asked Peter doubtfully as he looked at it. Andrew joined him. “Yes,” he replied, but Peter couldn’t help but notice that his voice was lacking its usual conviction.
They turned as they heard the sound of someone on the stairs. “Mom and Papa’s train is due into Simford in a few minutes and it will not take long to get here from there. You are going to be all tidied up before they arrive home, will you not?” “Of course,” brazened Andrew. “We are about finished now anyway.” “Good. I would leave you to explain the mess of course, but I do not want to be asked why I let you make it in the first place.”
The boys did just manage to get everything tidied away and change their clothes before the carriage carrying their parents pulled up outside their house. “I am almost surprised to see the house still standing,” remarked Doc as she gave Andrew a hug. “I half expected you to have burnt it down, or to at least tried to burn it down.” “As if we would do something as silly as that,” replied Andrew, thinking about the couple of small fires that had broken out during that weekend.
Theo was talking to Peter. “The Futa boy came round again? I hope you and Andrew got rid of him.” “Of course Father. You do not need to worry about any boy becoming too familiar with Celestia while Andrew and I are about,” replied Peter with a touch of pride. “Good, that is how I hope it will remain.”
“Did you have a good weekend?” asked Celly as she hugged her mum. “We did. I had forgotten how nice Simmouth is. What have you three been up to this weekend?” as she spoke she noticed the look her sons shared. “What?” she asked again, more forcibly. “Mom, Papa, if you would care to follow us,” said Andrew, turning to make his way up the steps into the house. His parents shared a look before doing as he bade.
“What have you been doing down here?” asked Doc as they descended into the cellar. Anything else she wanted to say died on her lips as she took in the sight before her. Her laptop appeared to be hooked up to a large, and ungainly machine. There were levers and pulleys and belts and chains and was that a potato?
“What?” she asked at last. “We fixed it,” stated Andrew. “I will show you.”
He made his way to the contraption, where he fiddled with a knob or two, before pulling a lever and making another adjustment. To his mother’s amazement, the computer screen turned on and the laptop beeped. “But, how?” she asked as the familiar Windows logo graced the screen. “How do you know anything about computers?”
Andrew looked puzzled. “Compute-what? I used the simple application of science to formulate a workable solution to the problem, and then Peter helped me to build it.”
Doc stared at him in stunned silence for a moment before saying “thank you, I can’t believe you managed to do this. Thanks.” She hugged her sons in turn. “Well, we couldn’t have you upset Mom, we really couldn’t” said Andrew while his twin agreed and Celly nodded.
“Thank you again,” she replied before heading to the newly repaired laptop (not that it was portable any more), to test it out.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little story Doc. I really wish that your laptop could have been fixed as easily as this. Oh and I would totally have sent the boys over to fix it if I could. ;) Anyway, I hope this cheered you up and that you get your computer issues sorted soon. ☺