Fixation: the concluding chapter!
The concluding part of our serial story
At Robbie’s flat, all was chaos.
To begin with, I couldn’t see my brother at all. Pop was in the middle of the room, hopping from foot to foot, and occasionally waving xyr hand in the direction of the window. All around xem, the floor was covered with pieces of broken furniture, saucepans, cushions, and an assortment of brightly coloured sex toys.
Yasmin was hurrying around, gathering up Robbie’s drawings and trying to keep them out of Pop’s way. When she spotted me, she raised her eyebrows as a greeting.
‘He’s in there,’ she said, nodding towards the kitchen.
I found Robbie taking a tray of chocolate chip cookies out of the oven.
‘This is what you call needing my help?!’ I said, nodding at the baking. It was probably a bad sign. He always baked when he was stressed, and although that didn’t mean he was necessarily stressed when he baked, today it seemed pretty likely.
‘Here, have one.’ Robbie scrapped the nearest cookie off the foil onto a plate, and passed it over. The sideboard around him was cluttered with Tupperware, and at his feet was a rucksack, from which various items of food protruded.
The cookie was, unsurprisingly, delicious.
‘So, um,’ I ventured, wiping the final crumbs from around my mouth, ‘what on Earth is going on out there?’
‘Xe’s trying to reconstruct xyr missing thingamy from assorted items of my household belongings.’
‘Ah.’ Maybe I should have said something sooner. I could feel the weight of the calibrometer wheel in my pocket.
‘Once that’s done, it’s all aboard to who knows where – hence my stash of supplies.’ He gestured to the rucksack, then picked the box of cookies off the sideboard and began trying to cram it in.
‘Look, I’ll be back in a sec, okay?’ I dashed back to the living room, where Pop was trying to fasten a wok handle to a chair leg using a piece of red ribbon. For a second, it reminded me of nothing more than Arabella’s rituals.
Xe didn’t pay me the slightest bit of notice, so I pulled the metal wheel out of my jeans and began swinging it back and forth by the chain. When it nearly hit xem on the nose, xe finally looked up.
‘Excuse- What- Where did you find that?’ xe asked, snatching at the wheel. I stepped back and held it out of xyr reach.
‘That’d be telling. What are you going to do if I give it back to you?’
Xe looked blank for a few seconds, before gently putting the mismatched items xe’d been holding down on the floor.
‘I’m not used to staying in one place for too long,’ xe said. I noticed that xyr speech patterns had changed – no longer so formal or old-fashioned.
‘I think you should tidy up a bit,’ I said, waving vaguely at the contents of the living room carpet. ‘And Robbie’s going to miss you.’ It wasn’t my place to say that, but it was too late to take it back now.
‘I’ll take you all for a ride,’ xe said, as xe crouched down and began sorting through the broken furnishings.
I recalled Robbie’s bag of food, and realised that he believed this, somehow, despite the obvious physical impossibility. Was he that desperate for a way to escape from his life? Once he saw it couldn’t happen, once the long-held excuse of the missing part from the ship was no longer an obstacle, what would that do to him? I hadn’t a clue. But he was strong enough to kick its ass, whatever it was.
I held out the wheel.
Pop snatched it away, almost greedily, and swept the remainder of the pile of stuff to one side. So much for tidying. Xe adjusted xyr hat, and made a grand, sweeping gesture in the air.
With a flash of light, glitter rained down and the outline of xyr ship began to appear at the edges of the room, crystallising into a solid structure not unlike something from one of Robbie’s drawings. Although it managed to fit in the living room, it seemed simultaneously too large, and I was worried it might crash through the floorboards into the flat below. A gang plank stretched towards us, and Pop hopped onto it with a grin – that was a first – and the calibrometer wheel dangling from xyr hand.
‘Where are we going?’ I asked, only half-jokingly by now.
‘Court of King Arthur?’ xe said, shrugging.
I raised one corner of my mouth, unsure whether I should dare to believe this. Frankly, it was ridiculous, but now Yasmin bounded over from the other side of the room, all enthusiasm.
‘When do we leave?’ she asked.
‘As soon as I have reconstructed this most essential piece of our apparatus.’ Pop disappeared through a trapdoor, still waving the wheel.
‘Xe’s stockpiled a few home comforts,’ Yasmin whispered, gesturing up to the deck. I looked past the gang plank and saw an electric heater, an espresso machine and a laptop, all tucked beneath a wooden bench.
‘What’s xe going to do with them?’ I hissed back. ‘Without electricity?’
‘I think xe’s customised below decks enough to keep everything running – that’s why xe doesn’t make a habit of inviting the locals on board. We should be honoured.’
‘Is it bigger on the inside?’ I quipped, and Yasmin snorted.
‘It does feel a bit like that,’ she said.
A thud came from behind us, and I looked back towards the kitchen to see Robbie making his way towards us at a jog, his overstuffed rucksack of food hanging from one shoulder.
‘Right,’ he said. ‘All set.’
Pop emerged onto the deck, and stood at the top of the gang plank. With a sweep of one hand, xe bowed, and indicated that we should come aboard.
‘Card-carrying bisexuals only,’ xe said, with a mock stern look. ‘And biromantics,’ xe added hastily, with a glance at Robbie. Yasmin laughed, and led the way up the gangplank, dragging Robbie by the hand.
I made a show of fumbling in my wallet.
‘I’m sure I had it in here somewhere…’