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Why My Brother Is Wanted For Questioning By The United Nations: I

The Saga Of My Brother, Who Is Not A Fabrication: Part 3.

It was shortly after he returned from his adventures with the Device; the sun was shining, my father was preparing himself a sandwich of Herculean proportions, my mother was riveting the last few panels on a light aircraft of her own design, my uncle was lying in a hammock in the garden and my sisters were beside him with magnifying glasses focusing his halo onto unsuspecting ants.

The smell of burning chitin blew from there to the window of my bedroom wherein I was meditating upon the procedures used by my brother to acquire the Device. I wondered if such a thing could be repeated.

Without knocking my brother entered. He had taken to wearing a monk's habit and cowl. He wore also a large, elaborate and shining headdress, wrought of tungsten and silicates. This glistering crown was sturdily linked by a thick length of cable, plated with segmented steel, to a delicate-looking funnel, lovingly cast in chrome and buffed to a mirror-like finish and cunningly inlaid with copper wire in intricate patterns. He warned me that it would not be a well-considered course of action to attempt the acquisition of another Device, certainly not at this time.

He placed the funnel upon my head and delivered me a most puissant kick to the testes. Apparently satisfied, he removed the funnel and walked away in a most enigmatic manner.

The next day two large packages arrived for my brother. The first arrived in a guarded security van and was sealed in lead. He handled it with thick gloves. The second consisted of several hundred coolant mechanisms from freezers and tanks of pressurised liquid nitrogen. It arrived in an articulated lorry and we tipped the driver generously, as the Juggernaut was quite difficult to manoeuvre in the confines of our driveway.

My brother, at great length, took it all to his shed, which he had since reconstructed.
My mother considered it attention-seeking nonsense.
My sisters attempted to gain entry to the shed forcibly.
They employed all manner of ingenious and far-fetched methods. When they finally gave up they went and sat, scorched and sulking, outside the window of the shed. My brother briefly emerged and gave them ice cream. He then borrowed my mother's arc welding equipment and disappeared to his retreat.
"Why would a boy of such obviously prodigious intellect make his lair somewhere as unoriginal as the garden shed?", my uncle asked. He had recently acquired a welder's helmet which allowed him to see past his own aura and was less bitter than usual.
My father simply drowned his sorrows in the construction of ever more thunderous sandwiches.
We never did find out what his sorrows were.

As ever, when we rose the next day, a strange and bewildering sight greeted us. A towering, rumbling colossus of a Machine rose from a hole in the shed roof. It was intensely cold. Steam rose from it, and around it was a shimmering crystalline lattice: frost condensed from the air around it. Through the centre ran a length of flexible aluminium ducting pipe. The Machine was in the shape of a cone, tapering down from its hundred-foot height to, at a guess, the business end inside the shed.

As I watched, there was a thump that shook the house and geysers of steam sprayed from every crack and joint in the walls of the shed. My brother emerged with a towel around his waist, grinning proudly. He beckoned me inside.

The shed had been reconstructed inside as a Swedish pine sauna. As I suspected, from the ceiling hung the very tip of the machine. It was the end of the aluminium ducting, with a complex of hydraulics and oil pumps slung around it, holding in place a rubbery plastic bubble resembling a lens. The assembly breathed continuously.
"Disturbing, isn't it", my brother commented. "I haven't been able to get it to stop, I'll probably iron it out sooner or later. But look at this."

Below the breathing eye were some loose floorboards. These my brother pulled aside, showing the concrete floor of the shed. And the hole.
Or, to be precise, the pit.
The bottomless pit!

It was just large enough to crawl into, if one's inquisitiveness took a mentally unstable turn. As remarked, it had no visible bottom. As a test, I spat into it. The noise of impact never made its way back to me. My brother, as ever, had something to show me.

"Stand back and cover your ears," he warned. I did so, and he did likewise, then with his left foot (a trick he learned while travelling the world with the Device, I later discovered) tugged a chain, similar in many respects to the one which went missing from the downstairs toilet last week. There was a flash, a thump which lifted me from the ground, and a jet of steam gushed forth from the hole.

"The bucket!" he said. "Quickly, while it's still hot!"

I snatched up the bucket and ladle and handed it to him. He began to splash water over the tube, and the shed once more filled with steam.

Wondering at this marvellous invention, whatever its purpose, I left him to it, as several pieces of the Machine had rocketed themselves into the surrounding area and would have to be quietly retrieved (our neighbours seemed to have tired of my brother's ballistic ambitions) and taped back on.

I sat at the dinner table that evening to hear from my mother of further developments.
The sisters had buried themselves trying to enter the shed from beneath and had been sent upstairs for an early bath.
My father had donned a saffron robe and made a pilgrimage to the Pinnacle of the Machine, believing that the Ultimate Sandwich could be toasted there.
My uncle kept his own counsel. My brother had stolen his welding mask and he had again had no sleep. He grumped at us from the corner.
Another thump rattled the table. At this rate my father would soon be dislodged.
We ate on.

One minute to midnight, my watch said. My father had since abseiled back down the Machine. He reverently held a steaming sandwich in his ceremonial tongs. This he carried away to his shrine in the basement to consume with the Infinite. My mother was bringing her aeroplane on a test flight. She appeared quite pleased with the armaments in particular. I was watching a Doctor Who marathon on the downstairs television when my brother, excitable soul that he was, burst in, scattering ice crystals everywhere. He was followed by a gust of freezing wind.

His jaw appeared to have frozen, and he babbled incoherent strings of vowels at me for several seconds, before giving up and simply dragging me through the door and out to the shed. Here the experiment seemed complete. The Pit had settled and the Machine sat silent. Its creator bade me look into the hole. It took me several seconds to see it, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. Distant, near invisible, the faintest flickering glimmer.
It was the sun.

Nothing more could be done that night. Though we ached to make a descent, we were ill-prepared and the Pit sat empty, whistling mockingly at us. My brother equipped himself with crampons and climbing hooks and began to dismantle the Machine from the top down. I picked through the pieces and appropriated several parts. My father's birthday was approaching and I felt an Atomic Sandwich Toaster would be an appropriate gift, especially as I predicted that he would soon be experiencing a mild case of radiation sickness brought on by the Ultimate Sandwich. Safety had not been my father's greatest concern when he toasted it.

Scrap metal rained around me. The important components of the Machine had been removed and now by brother was now setting upon it with a crowbar. I was still safe inside the sauna, polishing what was to be the casing of the Atomic Sandwich Toaster, when the Machine's eye lit up. There was a grinding roar which loosened my bowels, then a gasp from above. I dashed outside to see my brother disappear into the roof of the shed, head first. He seemed unhappy about this development and was voicing his concerns spiritedly.

The dismantled parts of the Machine were alive. They crept, shiftily but speedily, back to the shed and began to reattach themselves to the Machine. Inside again, my brother seemed to be in some difficulty. Several freezer motors had him pinned and the Eye was extending several probes and fine wires with which to prod him. His expression was one of extreme constipation. "Get the funnel!" he hissed at me. "It's in my room-" At this, one of the larger probes started feeling about his mouth. I hesitated. His room was Protected: the last time I had attempted to enter without him I had been catapulted several hundred feet into the air and landed in a haystack. He spat out the probe. "Go! I've unlocked it!"

I hesitated no more. I sprinted out.

His room contained an eclectic and fascinating collection of knick-knacks, paraphernalia and bricabrac, but I had no time for it now. The funnel and headgear hung over my brother's bed.

I snatched it and ran out again. The dangling cable proved a problem. My legs rapidly became intimately entangled with it and as I began to tumble down the stairs I made my peace with such Gods as I could recall and were not diametrically opposed to my existence.

It was not to be. I crashed through the landing window, fell one storey to the ground and rolled to a buckled but breathing halt on the driveway. With all possible speed I hauled myself back to the shed.

The heat was blinding. The machine had run riot in its function as Master of the Sauna but my brother seemed to have matters in hand. He sat, crosslegged, at the centre of a small circular snowstorm. The probes which were molesting him had pulled away to a safe distance. The freezer motors lay in a defunct circle around him. The Eye was partially dismantled and breathed only slowly. As ever, my brother had surprised me.

I set the shining headdress upon his head and the funnel in his hand. He struck. Before I could even step back he was on his feet, out of the protective circle, beating off probes with the crowbar in his left hand and trying to wrestle the Eye to the ground with his right. The left hand closely resembled the upper parts of a helicopter both in motion and effect. Everything near to him was being torn apart. Within seconds the Eye was defenceless and pinned.

Working quickly he rammed it into the funnel. His eyes glazed over, he yelped and collapsed. I took the crowbar from him and finished the destruction.

As the red mist cleared several things resolved themselves. The shed walls were lightly sprayed with oil. The Eye flickered its last, almost reduced to shrapnel. My brother lay twitching and unconscious among the shredded machinery. I noted this as the first time in four years that he had not been in complete control of the situation. I decided that whatever the function of the helmet, it was best that I remove it. Briefly, I examined him. In terms of vital signs, he seemed fine, so I stepped outside to view the destruction.

In reconstructing itself, the Machine had been less mindful of property boundaries than my brother. It sprawled into the neighbouring gardens, steaming gently still. Surely my brother, the infallible genius, could not have been so short-sighted as to cause this.

From the twisted husk of the Machine there came a rattle of falling debris. Slowly I turned and sat to await what new developments might develop. My father picked his way down the Machine sheepishly. "Sorry about that", he called. The shed door clanged open and my brother staggered out, very quietly, clutching at his head. He glared blackly at my father and staggered inside to find some aspirin.

"Only a test", said my father. "Beyond that, my lips are sealed." He paced away enigmatically, as appeared to be the current fashion.

With no immediate peril, this seemed an advantageous time to take stock of the situation.

One, my brother boring holes through planets for reasons unknown.
Two, the Machine, given life by means and for reasons unknown.
Three, my father responsible for administering a test, to whom, progress and reasons unknown.

Dismissing it all, I went to bed. It was well past midnight, in case you had forgotten, and I had just fallen out of a first-floor window.

Part 2: The Device Of Many Uses
Part 4: Why My Brother Is Wanted For Questioning By The United Nations: II

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