Experiment #14

The Robot Who Couldn’t

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jimmy who lived with his Mom. Finally, after months of asking, Jimmy got a robot. He’d received it as a gift from a distant aunt who’d even gone to the trouble of having it personally engraved, or at least that’s what his Mom told him he had to say he appreciated in his Thank You card.

Jimmy put the robot together himself without even touching the directions. Jimmy would command it and the robot would do what he asked. Jimmy stopped having to do all kinds of things he didn’t like, such as cleaning his room, washing the dishes, and feeding the family pet. This left plenty of time for playing video games, watching holographic television, and generally doing nothing.

But soon the robot slowed. Once it took the robot a whole day to make Jimmy’s bed. Finally, it stopped moving all together.

“Robot, clean my room,” Jimmy commanded.

The robot didn’t move. Jimmy went off to play anyway, but his Mom marched him right back into the room. She didn’t care if the robot wasn’t working, Jimmy’s chores still had to be done, so Jimmy cleaned his room.

“Robot, do my homework.” Jimmy said. The robot didn’t move, so with a grumble, Jimmy did it.

“Robot, pick up my toys.” The robot didn’t move, so Jimmy did it.

“Robot, do the dishes.” The robot didn’t move, so Jimmy did it.

“Robot, pick up my clothes.” The robot didn’t move, so Jimmy did it.

“Robot, make my bed.” The robot didn’t move.

“Why do I even have a robot if you won’t do anything?” Jimmy asked.

The robot didn’t answer.

Jimmy threw his pillow at the robot.

The robot bobbled at the impact.

Jimmy walked over and grabbed the pillow. As Jimmy looked at the robot he paused. Most of the robot was a dull brownish grey, but where the pillow had hit it there was a streak of lighter grey. Jimmy used his sleeve and rubbed the robots chest plate. A long forgotten inscription showed through, “Property of James Alfred Smith.”

Jimmy found the manual under a stack of books. He flipped through it and looked up at the robot. He got out his tools and a bucket of soapy water.

Jimmy cleaned and oiled, scrubbed and washed. He repaired the arm and leg motors that had fused for lack of oil. He soldered broken circuitry and rewired to increase the robots mobility. He straightened the antenna and fixed the voice circuits he’d never bothered to hook up.

“M-m-master,” the robot said, “Please forgive me. I wanted to do as you asked, but I could not move.”

Jimmy set down his tools. “Call me Jimmy,” he said.

Together they cleaned up the tools, together they made the bed, and together they went downstairs to play video games, watch holographic television, and generally do nothing.

Experiment #50

The Man with a Robotic Arm (Part 2 of 2)

Hogarth stomped into view. He laughed when he saw them. “You guys think you’re so strong,” he said. He licked his lips and rubbed his hands together. “I’m going to enjoy dinner tonight. All those houses give me indigestion.”

The man and the monkey both picked up stones and slung them at Hogarth trying to stop his advance, but the rocks were too small, like dust particles slung at a human. Even the combined strength of the man and his monkey could not get them out of this mess.

Hogarth towered above them and licked his lips once more. He opened his mouth, and leaned forward.

“Why?” The robot monkey shouted suddenly. The shout startled Hogarth (and the man). Hogarth pulled back and looked quizzically at the robot monkey.

He hadn’t thought about why. He was well aware that he was not an exceptionally smart monster. He always wanted to think about things before he committed to them. So he sat down to think about why the houses gave him indigestion.

After a long, tense moment he said, “I think it’s the plumbing. Too much water and… other stuff… Ruins my constitution.”

“Why,” the robot monkey said again, stalling for a plan, “do you eat houses if the plumbing… and such… upsets your tummy?”

Hogarth shook his head and looked off into the distance. “Everyone runs away when I come to the village,” he said. A single tear traveled out of his eye and down his snout. It perched at the end of his nose for a minute before being joined by another finally falling to the ground.

“Probably because you eat their houses,” the man said, “and throw chicken coups at them.”

“That could be…” Hogarth said noncommittally. He wanted to think about that before he agreed. “I think they’d find me to be a rather nice monster, if they didn’t just run away.”

“How about you promise not to eat us,” the man said. “Then we can tell everybody how nice you are, that you won’t eat anymore houses, or throw any more chicken coups and then they won’t run away.”

“We can’t do much for you from inside your tummy,” the robot monkey pointed out. “Our nutritional value is questionable.”

Hogarth thought this over. His stomach rumbled and he burped out a cloud of gas. “Ugh,” he said, pounding his chest. “That tasted just as bad going down…” He looked down at them. “You’ve got a deal,” he said.

The man, the robot monkey and Hogarth all went back to the village and no one was eaten or disparaged the whole way home. Everyone kept their end of the bargain. The man and the robot monkey said very nice things about Hogarth and even gave him excellent references when he went looking for work. After a short time he started his own business, Hogarth Wrecking & Construction Inc. The man and his robotic monkey also taught Hogarth the delicious benefits of sandwiches and Hogarth now eats two-hundred thirty-seven sandwiches per day.

The man and his robotic monkey, could no longer find work lifting, crushing, and opening things. From that day on they could only find work solving problems and using their minds to stop recurring issues. And they were paid handsomely for it.

Without Hogarth destroying infrastructure every week or so and Hogarth’s construction business, the village grew into a city and prospered right along with Hogarth, the man, and his robotic monkey.