he was always messing around with stuff he found around the house and coming up with the most incredible devices, i mean one time he made a skateboard out of a bunch of empty cereal boxes, some varnish, and a bunch of aluminium cans; and it was a good skateboard, too, a smooth ride.

and then he made a surgical laser using just a shotglass, a battery-powered pocket torch, and one of those little rings with the crappy red plastic jewels set in them which you buy from those fifty- cent vending machines they have outside of supermarkets. we all thought he was nuts, you know, totally crazy -- until he turned the laser on, and it worked, and he even removed grandma's brain tumour with it, and grandma was fine, and so proud of him!

we asked him how he did it, and he only said `there's more to those toy-vending-machines than you think,' in this mysterious kind of way.

he was a pretty mysterious guy.

when we asked him how he knew to put all this stuff together his eyes would go all distant and he would say strange things that we couldn't understand about `non-local possibility matrices' and `the heterarchical nature of subquantum interactions' and `nonassociable, nonoverlappingly- considerable, nonsimultaneously-transforming events of nonsynchronizable disparate wave frequency rate ranges', and `the singing colours' and `the knowers outside of time', and some other things that weren't even in english, or even in any human language, grandpa said.

and if we asked him too many more questions, he'd start to emit this weird high- pitched insect buzzing, this kind of chittering-whining that varied in frequency and seemed to be outside the range of humanly-producible sounds -- 'stridulation,' grandpa called it -- and then this strange light would start to flood out from his eyes, this light that seemed to simultaneously contain all the colours of the visible spectrum, and the light flashed in time to his chirping, which would get more and more complex and louder and higher until it seemed to absorb us and the only thing left was the light-noise, and then we'd all kind of pass out, and we'd wake up four days later -- it was always four days -- and he'd be gone and we wouldn't see him again for a long time, sometimes as long as two months, and when he suddenly turned up again he'd be like `how are y'all?' and acting all casual like nothing had happened, like he'd just been down at the store for twenty minutes, and none of us wanted to ask him any questions about where he'd been for so long in case, y'know, he started doing that chirping stuff again. but what really surprised us was when, entirely out of office supplies, he built what he called `the gateway'...

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