Chapter One: Testing--2, 3, 4
Randy O'Rourke tightened the last screw on his robot. Finished! Looking it in the eye, he held out his hand. "Shake," he said.
The robot shook all over. His body clanked noisily.
"No," Randy said. "I want you to shake my hand."
The robot shook his hand.
Randy's shoes were always untied. He pointed to his sneaker. "Good. You got that right. Now tie my shoe."
The robot got down on both knees. He made a rabbit's ear in one shoelace. He made a rabbit's ear in the other lace. Then he looped them together.
"You tied it!" Randy yelled. "Awesome. Wait until Jake sees you!"
Randy grabbed the receiver off the old crank phone that he had rescued from the junkyard. Cr-rank. The phone was hooked up to Jacob Silverman's house next door. Cr-rank. On the third ring, Jake would answer. Cr-rank.
"Hi, Randy. What's happening?"
"Get over here right away. I have something to show you!"
"Is your robot finished?" Jacob asked eagerly.
"Don't ask questions. Just get over here quickly!"
Randy shoved some clothes off a rocking chair and sat down to admire his invention. He wanted his robot to be the best ever. He'd given it blue glass eyes. He'd painted a red heart on its chest. He'd polished its silver body until it sparkled. It looked great. And it did what he said! That was the most important part.
This invention had taken months. Summer vacation was over. School had started, and Randy hadn't even had time to play baseball. But now, he'd have plenty of time. Randy proudly ran his hand over the robot's metal chest.
The robot's blue eyes blinked.
Was he sensitive to touch? Randy patted the robot's arm.
It blinked again.
Unbelievable!Running his fingers through his red hair, Randy looked out the window. Where was Jake? He hadn't lived in Tech City long, but he was already Randy's best friend. He couldn't wait to show him the robot.
Jake pounded on the door. Three knocks, their special code. Randy let him in and stepped aside with a broad sweep of his arm. "Ta-daa!"
"Wow!" Jacob walked around the robot. "What a piece of work."
Randy smiled proudly. "Shake hands with my best friend," he told the robot.
The robot grabbed Jacob's hand. He shook it. Hard.
"Ouch!" Jacob yelled. "I don't think he likes me."
"Don't be silly." Randy loosened a screw in the robot's wrist.
"Shake," he said, holding out his hand.
The robot shook Randy's hand nicely.
"See?" Randy shrugged. "It was just a glitch. A glitch is a problem. The loose screw was a minor glitch."
"I get it. The screw was a small problem." Jacob ran his hand over the robot's arm.
The robot blinked.
"Hey! He's really cool," Jacob said.
The robot's red heart glowed.
"Criminy, he acts real." Jacob acted excited now. "How's he do that stuff?"
Randy hadn't programmed the robot to respond to touch. Or to compliments. But both were such great tricks, he just smiled mysteriously.
"I gotta see this again." Jacob touched the robot. It blinked.
"You're awesome," he said. Its heart glowed. Jacob whistled loudly. "He's totally awesome."
"Better than that, he's super colossal," Randy said. "That's what the ads call the robots at Future World."
Jacob looked at Randy. "What's Future World?"
"It's this really neat amusement park where robots do all the work. It's not far from here. You'll have to see it. The robots run the rides. They sell the food. They do everything. The only thing that real people do is boss the robots around. That's where I got my big idea."
"Here, watch this." There were shirts and shoes scattered all over his bedroom. "Pick up my clothes," he told the robot.
The robot picked up the shirts, folded them, and put them in a drawer. He set the shoes inside the closet.
"See? He'll do all my chores. I won't have to do anything."
Jacob's mouth hung open. "You just say 'do something', and he does?"
"Right. I say make my bed..." Randy paused. "I should have a name to call him."
"He's making the bed, anyway," Jacob said, chuckling. "But he does need a name. Robby sounds good with Robot."
"Too common. This guy needs a special name." Randy paced the floor saying names to himself. "William. Alexander. Arthur. Lancelot."
"Kings' and knights' names aren't right for someone you plan to order around."
"How about Sylvester? Or Sly? Arnold, maybe."
Jacob shook his head. "They don't suit him."
"Okay, let me think." As he thought, Randy paced the floor and scratched his head.
The robot paced the floor and scratched his head.
Jacob cracked up. "You don't even have to think for yourself. He's doing it for you."
"This is even better than I planned!" Randy shouted. "If my robot can think, he can do my homework. Then I really won't have to do anything--ever again." He hopped up on the bed, and bounced on his Cincinnati Reds spread. "Yahoo!"
"Wait a minute. You really think he can do homework?" Jacob asked.
"Yeah, I do." Randy sat down and ran his hand over the robot's metal fingers.
The robot blinked, and his heart glowed.
Randy grinned at Jacob. "I think this guy can do anything he tries. But just to be sure, I'll put him to the final test."